Holiday photography: Crab shells on the beach

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Crab shell lips, Olympic National Park.

I have mentioned the photographer Scott Cahill Rude, whom we have discovered on our recent vacation. Of course, we have also seen plenty of natural and man-made beauty that I sometimes tried to capture in photographs. I would like to show you some of these compositions in this and in upcoming blog posts.
Pursuing photography while traveling with your family is on one hand very easy, but on the other hand also much more challenging than you may first realize. The large majority of the photographs are of course rather documentary and private. We look at these pictures together, include them in our family year or holiday books and use them as time machines to bring us back to our five weeks of camping, hiking and enjoying the outdoors (unfortunately the photographs have so far only brought back memories - I am still waiting to be physically beamed back in time). In summary: these captures are not meant to be shared with “everybody” and I rather refer to them as pictures than as photographs (even though some of the portraits are very nice). Photographs, on the other hand, are deliberate and conscious compositions that I create according to my vision and which I consider worth sharing here.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Crab shells and sand pattern.

One of the difficulties with family holiday photography is of course that you spend only a limited amount of time at a particular location. Often you will not be at the right place at the right time (which is the reason why nearby photography is fulfilling and very satisfactory). A possible solution is not to photograph famous landmarks, sunsets, or sunrises, but rather to pursue themes that depend less on the time of day, or a particular weather condition, but may be discovered everywhere. For example, during our holiday I did not even think about a “real” photograph of any of the huge Sequoias, the Yosemite valley or the Golden Gate bridge (to name just three) - a picture is clearly enough at these places. Instead, I had planned to delve into flower photography (but hardly ever felt inspired to do so during our trip), looked out for new carcolor compositions, discovered exciting facades and buildings, took many new photographs of water (an ongoing project that I will show sometimes later), and created a collection of beach photographs - a type of photography subject completely lacking in Switzerland (unfortunately). The beach photographs shown here show the remains  (exuviae) of crabs, which we found in huge masses on Kalaloch beach in Olympic National Park. Piles of crab remains are nothing to be worried about: Similar to animals such as snakes or lizards, crabs have to molt as they grow. Since this can happen quite synchronously, some beaches may become littered with crab shells and parts at certain times of the year. It seems that we have been lucky (as the last photograph indicates - it is only added for illustrative purposes and not part of the natural beauty collection). The species of crab is most likely a Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister), but I am not a specialist and therefore not entirely sure.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug 1 Right-side up, 4 upside down.

I have been enticed to take these crab carapace compositions because of an abstract theme that I have been working on for a long time already (I refer to it as "outlier" - the photograph above is an example). While looking for ever new crab carapace arrangements, I have found new angles and compositions that did not fit the original idea any more and I ended up with a small collection of, as I think (but less so my wife), beautiful crab shell photographs. I particularly like the first example because it is a rather unexpected view of a crab carapace, because the light shines so beautifully through the shell, because of the interplay between focus and out of focus, and because the shape of the shell looks like a mouth with lips (to me). I would also like to emphasize that the carapaces were not touched let alone arranged in any way. The photographs show the crab remains as I found them washed upon the beach and after the next wave or high tide everything was different again. The photographs are stored under in my natural beauty section within the nature detail gallery.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Crab remains on Kalaloch beach, Olympic National Park.

2013/09/20 by Florian Freimoser
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