Looking Inside The Waves

May 04, 2015

About this time last year I was in Florida for a week long shooting trip. My goal was to chase the clouds over the un-manicured jungle-like landscape of Pelican Island and the Sebastian Inlet near Vero Beach. How successful was I? Not very, at least as the cloud part goes. I did get one of my favorite cloud photos ever on that first morning, but then rainy overcast skies ruled the day for the rest of the week. And, overcast skies are a long way from the billowy cumulus clouds that I love.

Pelican_06Pelican_06The one and only cloud shot from my week of shooting where the original goal was to shoot clouds all week. This one from The Jungle Trail on Pelican Island near Vero Beach, FL..


So, where did that leave me? I was honestly kind of stuck as I stood on the somewhat gloomy overcast beach above the Sebastian inlet that second morning. The weather report wasn’t good for the rest of the week and I needed a new idea. As I stood there staring, something told me to look “inside” the waves. Though the sky was overcast, there was still some direction to the light which made it subtlety turn the breaking waves translucent if you looked very closely and “inside” the waves. Why not give the waves a shot, I’ve been shooting water all my life, and why I hadn’t done this before is a mystery to even me.

"By the end of the week, I could tell you what a wave looked like just by listening to it!"

I started to get lost inside the waves as they broke on the shore and began noticing the timing of the peaks of water. The tension and release of energy as the wave comes over the top and releases into the shore. That tension just before the wave totally releases fascinated me and that’s what I ended up focusing on for most of the rest of the week. By the end of the week, I could tell you what a wave looked like just by listening to it!

Wave_02TCEFXWave_02TCEFXOne of the waves I captured during my week of shooting near Vero Beach. The tension created just before the wave totally releases was the focus of my attention here.


I tell you this story to not only let you know how I think when I go out to shoot, but to illustrate that sometimes you have to let things come to you, not  just chase preconceived ideas. Many beginning photographers and amateur photographers, in general, want so badly to make a great image, that the image becomes the goal instead of the result of an experience. I can tell you after photographing all these years, that images from an experience are always better than the images we force because that’s what we were after. So, let your photography be about experiences that just happen to produce great images, by not forcing things to meet your beginning idea, but letting your mind open to new approaches and let them come to you!

Wave_17CrescendoA beautiful wave breaking near The Sebastian Inlet in Florida by Steve Payne.



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