Ephemeral Cape Cod

I spent a week on the Cape at the end of March. I had planned on an early February trip, but we had more winter than most of us could handle.  The weather cooperated during my stay, raining only on my last full day. During that week I had sunny days with partial clouds, and two days with high overcast—all providing ideal lighting for the appropriate subjects photographed.

The Cape formed about 15,000 years ago as a result of several cycles of glacial advance and recession. Geologically speaking, it is a moraine built of sand and some rock, the highest portions of which are “Up-Cape” along the Mid-Cape highway (Route 6). Like its cousin in North Carolina (the Outer Banks), the Cape constantly shifts as storms erode the coast line (occasionally putting some sand back). All the lighthouses on the Cape were moved back from the shore at least once, due to erosion. This past winter has seen a lot of beach erosion, with some areas of the National Seashore beaches fenced off from the parking lots above, due to instability. In perhaps as little as a thousand years the Cape might be gone.

I decided to shoot a bit differently than I did on the Maine trip last year. In addition to land and seascapes I also photographed items on the beach. I also processed some of these photos with more contrast that I typically use, and in some of the sand shots added a more granular look. Four of these photos won high marks in last month’s Camera Rochester’s juried competition.

Stage Harbor, Cape Cod; image scored 14 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition
Stage Harbor, Cape Cod; image scored 14 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition

The first of these is shown on the left (click on the photos for a full screen view). This is the Stage Harbor Light, which is now privately owned. You’ll notice that the Fresnel lens (i.e., the light) was removed. I walked 360º around the house, photographing as I went. I decided that this was the best shot. This was one of those days with high overcast that gave me soft light, as well as a good background for my subject. I took this photograph, handheld, with my Fuji X100S.

As I walked back toward Harding Beach and my car I came across the

Hardings Beach, Cape Cod; image scored 14 of 15 pts in Camera Rochester juried competition
Harding Beach, Cape Cod; image scored 14 of 15 pts in Camera Rochester juried competition

remains of a fence built long ago. Initially passing it, I went back and looked at it more closely. Ah, this could be a fine art shot, something I don’t normally do. As photographers, and any artist for that matter, we are urged to come out of our comfort zone and try something new. In fact, this is the sort of thing I tended to do when I photographed during my teen years. I photographed from a few angles, then set my lens to f/2 to minimize depth of field so that only the front post was in focus. That was a hit, also!

The weather was forecast to be clear the next day, so I got up at 4:00 AM and headed for Chatham’s South beach. It’s several miles long, extending toward the Monomoy Island Preserve. It was only 30° and I was backpacking most of my equipment since I wasn’t sure what I would need. Wearing my headlamp, I trudged through the sand looking for a good location for pre-dawn shots. I finally found a good spot and took a series of photos to create the following panorama with my Canon 7D DSLR..

South Beach, Cape Cod
South Beach, Cape Cod

As dawn broke, I saw what looked to be an outhouse, or what ever. Its wood looked to

Chatham, Cape Cod; image scored 13 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition
Chatham, Cape Cod; image scored 13 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition

be relatively new. In fact, the whole thing looked liked it was a prop. So I figured, go for it. I photographed from a few angles, this time on a tripod, and since the light was rapidly changing I continued to photograph until the light lost its warm glow about twenty minutes later. I gave it a bit of a surreal look in post-processing. Here it is, shown to the left. I call it Under Deconstruction.

Toward the end of the week I headed to Provincetown. Actually, I

The Province Lands, Cape Cod National Seashore
The Province Lands, Cape Cod National Seashore

didn’t really go to P-town, I went to the Province Lands at the northern end of the National Seashore, just prior to P-town. There, things were in disarray. Winter storms blew sand into the roads and parking lots. This will all be plowed and cleared by loaders before the summer season gets started. Fortunately, I was able to drive against a one-way road to get to a

small open part of paved parking. The Park Rangers didn’t seem to mind. Needless to say, I didn’t park by this sign on the right.

I walked down to the beach then up to the dunes and found this shot of snow (sand?) fences holding sand back from a walkway. I took a few shots, and yes, over processed a bit to give the photo a bit of an austere look.

Province Land Dunes, Cape Cod National Seashore; image scored 14 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition
Province Land Dunes, Cape Cod National Seashore; image scored 14 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition

Well, that was my trip. you can find a few more of my photographs at my on-line gallery, Cape Cod. Any thoughts? Do let me know.

Author: Stephen Fielding Images

I'm a retired medical sociologist from the University of Rochester. My publishing experience includes a wide variety of academic articles and a book, "The Practice of Uncertainty" (1999). The mission of my blog is to provide accounts of the natural environment, including photos, in order to raise awareness of its fragility and the impact of climate change. Climate change is the greatest challenge currently faced by humanity. I occasionally write about the impact of climate change using the principles of social scientific writing. To do this I read reputable books and articles on the topic. So when I make statements about climate change you will see a link taking you to the scientific source(s) of the information I provide. As for my independently published photobooks, each has gone through several layers of editing and peer review for both readability and accuracy. This is not to say that everything I say is accurate. Even the New York Times makes mistakes. So, if you find something that is factually incorrect, let me know. I hope you find reading my blog a positive experience. If you do, please encourage your family and friends to have a look. Best wishes, -Steve

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s