Emotions of the Sea – Part 1

I have always been fascinated by the sea. We used to go to Norfolk in South-East England a lot when I was a child, and I could spend hours staring out at the horizon. I still can. There is something magical about the sea, and the way it invokes a sense of mystery. You look out, and at some point the world just ends. You know there’s something beyond that horizon, but you can’t see it.

Recently I’ve been looking at Hiroshi Sugimoto’s seascapes. When looking at one of those images there is only sea and sky, and Hiroshi Sugimoto presents these two elements so geometrically. The series uses these common geometric elements to tie each image to the others in a way that inspires wonder at the beauty of our watery world.

It’s been a long time since I’ve photographed the sea, but yesterday I was in Scarborough, on the grey Yorkshire Coast, and I thought I would use this opportunity to escape the stress of coursework and assessments to walk the coast for three hours, trying to bring my own perspective to the dull scene of a March day on an English coast. The weather was grey and hazy, so at first I was worried that I wouldn’t get anything from the day. When I got up onto the cliffs and looked out over the sea, I realised how wrong I was.

The mist was hanging low over the sea, blurring the line between sea and sky and forming an atmospheric gradient which acted as the perfect backdrop to the imposing cliffs of Cayton Bay.

Cayton Bay, 01 (Flickr).jpg
Cayton Bay, #01

In this image, I wanted to try using the grey sky to create a negative space at the top of the frame, which served to draw the viewer’s eye down to the cliffs and the sea below them. The vertical format of the image gives a sense of vastness, and I think that the minimalist composition – the only real point of interest being the cliffs at the bottom – makes it relaxing to look at. The sea has so often been used as a metaphor for human emotion throughout the ages, and I feel that this scene is no different. This image captures perfectly how I felt on seeing the sea yesterday. It was a feeling of awe, but also of relief – of escape from the everyday.

Cayton Bay, 02 (Flickr).jpg
Cayton Bay, #02

This second image is very different. It is far more crowded, with the muddy cliffs on the right imposing themselves on the viewer. The waves, reaching right up to the rocks, form a line that curves all the way through the frame to the end of the bay, leading the viewer far away from the point of view.

Single Post, Cayton Bay Cliffside (Flickr).jpg
Single Post, Cayton Bay Cliffside

This image, of a single telegraph pole standing on the very edge of the cliff, invokes a sense of isolation for me. Like me, it was stood alone in a remote place, far away from the world. Places like this are where I feel most at home. It’s nice sometimes to leave everything behind and stand on a cliff in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but the landscape to accompany you. Photography gives me that space. It’s a reason to be out at sunrise on the moor, or to walk for three hours along the cliffs. It’s a reason to stop and take in a beautiful landscape, and wonder at the beauty of our world.

I’ve got two more images to show you from yesterday’s trip, but this post is getting to be quite long, so I’m splitting it up into two parts – hopefully the second half will be up by tonight!

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