Distant Shores

comments 13
Abstract / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes

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December 7 and 8, 2018, Point Reyes National Seashore. Horizons are beautiful in their simplicity. Engaging in their subtle complexity. Their moods are varied. They have endless color and texture possibilities. For all these reasons I never tire of them. But there’s another reason as well.

Horizons are calming. Soothing. Stabilizing. Horizons are therapeutic. Stand on a bluff looking outward over the sea for only a few minutes, and if you’re like most people you’ll feel both rested and invigorated. Gaze longer and a reassuring sense of stability will develop. The turbulence of life calms and a sense of order is restored. Stress dissolves. The space does that.

Space ceases to be just the horizon’s and becomes your own. The space is real. At sea level, the horizon is about three miles (almost five kilometers) away. When you stand at one hundred feet (thirty meters), as in the seascape above, the horizon is about twelve miles (almost twenty kilometers) away. That’s a lot of space to take virtual ownership of. Extend your line of sight and there’s even more space. From the vantage point of the shot at the top of this post, the nearest landfall would be somewhere in the Philippines. But if you extend your line of sight straight out and don’t follow the curvature of the Earth your gaze is measured in light-years.

Then there is stability. On a clear day, the horizon is faithfully the horizon. It’s not going anywhere. You can count on it, and in this world it’s good to have something you can count on. (On foggy days, the deal might be off — so if you’re feeling foggy yourself, the therapeutic value diminishes. Unless you get fascinated with the constant shift of patterns in the fog, in which case that’ll chase your blues away.)

Photographs of horizons can have similar effect, especially if they’re large.

Recently I’ve been shooting nearer shores. In this one, the other side of Tomales Bay is less than a mile away. It’s a composite of two intentional camera motion shots made with different rates of motion. The only other bit of post-processing was a bit of selective sharpening. The color is as it was on a moody December dusk.

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The next evening, we went out to the Chimney Rock trail in search of the setting of a crescent moon, but it turned out to be such a tiny sliver that the thin fog completely obscured it. There was a consolation prize, however: the alpenglow on cliffs on the far side of Drake’s Bay was soft and inviting. A long exposure and a twist made it ethereal.

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It seems the horizon doesn’t have to be that far away to be magic. . .

(Nikon D850; Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2, editing in Adobe Photoshop)

More fine art photography at www.amagaphoto.com

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at www.amagaphoto.com All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. I would like to write in a good English to tell you the wonder I feel in front of your photographs. but I have to use google translator and I do not know what will come out … your photos are wonderful, they meet my sensitivity and what I feel I share it. I live on the Ligurian Sea, in the northwest of Italy and our horizons are very different, but when I lived near Bordeaux in France I went on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to fix infinite horizons, only water and air and wind and to be alive

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grazie Margo! I admire your drawing and painting as much as you admire my photography. Many years ago I also drew and painted, but I am out of practice. In a way, photography is a substitute. I paint with photography. I also love animals. Say hello to Oklahoma for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank Riemer says

    I really enjoy the blend of philosophy and “nerdy” science behind your written and photographic art.

    I grew up near the ocean and never once reflected on the difference that standing in the sand versus up on a bluff made to how many miles away the horizon appeared to be.

    But the therapeutic value of space, that’s another matter.

    In fact I formulated a theory at the time that explained why the guys in school who were trying to cultivate a real tough guy image, seldom hung out at the beach—right on the sand: there was just too much space for their compacted views and attitudes to stand up to—the space always won.

    And sooner or later they would either leave, or surrender to its calming effect.

    (Of course it could have been because sand got in their wingtips, but I think not.)



  3. I agree with Frank R’s comment above – I very much enjoy this post’s mingling of philosophy, science, and a bit of poetry. And the photos, too, of course! I’m quite a ways from any ocean, but some days can look across a hundred miles of Lake Michigan.


    • Thank you very much, Robert. Looking across any great distance will do it. The view from the top of a high hill or mountain works just as well. Or looking across a wide valley. Or a great lake. Pun intended. And, of course, any of these would make a great photograph. By the way, every time I look at your name I think of the author Robert B Parker—creator of the wonderful Spenser series.


  4. I live on the Texas High Plains, and there are few things I like more than a good, long horizon. Trees and hills make me feel too closed in, in a way that makes me know in my soul that I have to be somewhere with an accessible horizon. They are, as you correctly stated calming, soothing, stabilizing, therapeutic. (When I lived in New Orleans for a few years and started to feel compressed by the lack of horizons, I’d go to the levee along Lake Pontchartrain and stare across the water. It helped. But moving back to the Plains helped more.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s beautiful. You do not lack horizons, that’s for sure. If anyone ever needed an example of leading lines, well, there you go. Thanks for the follow. I am following your blogs and I am a huge fan. AMAGA Photography is not a blog, but I will announce its updates on this blog occasionally.


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