Walking through the scene during a 10 second exposure, a person leaves behind only footprints, but even those will soon be gone.
Picture of Stephen Girimont

Stephen Girimont

Owner, The Intimate Landscape, Fine Art Prints

Impermanence

"Impermanence is a Buddhist doctrine that asserts that all of existence is transient."
Walking through the scene during a 10 second exposure, a person leaves behind only footprints, but even those will soon be gone.
 

Normally, I’m not much of a fan of images that require an explanation to make sense, so I try not to make them. In this instance, however, something inspired me to create just such an image.

“Impermanence” is a Buddhist doctrine that asserts that all of existence is transient. It occurred to me to illustrate this concept while photographing the surf at Virginia Beach recently.

Anyone who has spent any time at the beach knows that footprints in the sand last only until the next wave comes along to wipe them out and I expanded on that concept by opening the shutter just before a person entered the field of view. It’s a 10-second exposure in very dim light, so the person walking through the scene didn’t register at all, leaving behind only their footprints on the sand. The image also shows the action of the waves that will soon enough be eliminating the last evidence of their passing.

I purposely retained the dark nature of the scene, choosing not to expose any whites in the image as there were none in reality, and kept that mood in the post-processing.

This image was taken with the Olympus Pen F four-thirds (4:3) digital camera and an Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens. I used approximately 4 stops of neutral density filtration at ISO 200 to get the exposure down to 10 seconds.

The Olympus Pen F has become my “always with me” camera of late and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it. When used correctly (do NOT underexpose!), it can produce some really nice images.

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