The Light and the Quicksilver Sea

"But first and last the sea is of all colors"

(Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod)

Far from the mainland of Massachusetts, the thin outer arm of Cape Cod reaches deep into the waters of the North Atlantic. Wild, rural and remote, this place became a haven for artists at the turn of the twentieth century. Here, on this strand lying low against the sea, the austere land and seascapes offered inspiration to painters and poets alike. Through all this time, and still today, this place has been imbued by a singular pervasive quality: its light.

During the twilight hours at dawn and dusk when the winds are low, the clouds scattered, and the sun’s rays bend over the horizon, this light can be remarkable. Through the vaporous atmosphere it comes from the sky, and from the sea, and from the sand, until it seems, at once, to reflect from all places. At times it can be devoid of color, a diffuse lambency that permeates all shadows. At others, a few moments of golden glow can melt into flickering lavender, then fade to a rusty luminance as the iris opens wide to take in the encroaching stars. Its beauty can overrun one’s sight, penetrating the other senses, attaining, almost, a vibrating quality of sound.

With this series of images I explore the essence of the light on outer Cape Cod through a selection of photos taken on the shores of Truro. As light by itself has no real substance, the sea provides the medium through which I view it, its quicksilver nature offering almost unlimited variations in composition. The images are a sampling - from perspectives both intimate and panoramic - over a course of seasons, and years. A slow shutter speed telescopes time, drawing and blending the light’s colors within my camera as the photo paints itself from a billion shimmering scintillations of luminous pigment. What was continuous becomes discrete, and the light takes physical form.

view images