I am incorporating a bit different aspect to my blog and will be periodically be taking some of the photos from the ‘past’ (before the creation of this blog) and writing about them; you will know if it’s one of these photos because I will start each entry with “Photographic Reflection”. These photos are not just unstructured, random selections, but are moments in time which hold tremendous significance for me. There are stories behind the photos which cannot be portrayed just from 1000 words worth of pixels (using the old adage) and I’m hoping to take them into a third dimension. If I’ve done my job these entries will serve as an insight into my senses and perception of the moment the image was captured, and will securely place these moments in my oral/narrative past.
October 30, 2013 marked the 1 year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which was the second hurricane I experienced during my three years of living in Maine. It differed a lot from Hurricane Irene which rolled through in 2010. Hurricane Sandy brought sustained 50 mile-per-hour winds to the Northeast coast and winds gusting to 64 miles-per-hours pushed up towering waves which broke upon the granite coast of Maine. During my visits to Dire Point, Pine Point and Cape Elizabeth leading up to the storm the waves continued to grow larger and the evening grew darker. By the time night had fallen the weather buoys outside of the Portland Harbor were reading wave heights of 18 feet or more. It was interesting staying in the house that night. As the winds howled outside the house felt close but comfortable. Each buffet on the window brought a sense of security – false or not – because every time a tree resisted the urge to let Sandy tip it over the more confident you felt it would continue to prevail in the next onslaught. I went to sleep that night knowing the next morning would not be like one I had ever seen.
When I woke up an hour before sunrise I cracked open the shades and took a short evaluation of the trees outside my window. Aside from the smaller limbs down and a covering of leaves on the ground our yard trees seemed to be in pretty good shape. I got out of bed and grabbed my camera; it was my intention to head out and document the wanton destruction of Mother Nature’s daughter, Sandy. As I drove along Black Point Road towards Two Lights State Park I could not really perceive anything wrong with the world. Power lines were not tangled, there were few injured trees, flood surge was not present and all houses were intact. To emphasize this feeling of assurance that we had gone through the worst of it mostly unscathed, overhead the sky broke and turned yellow, lit by a low-lying sun just cresting the horizon. Somehow out of the suppression of the clouds there was a sunrise. I almost stopped the truck there, but quickly realized the sooner I made it to Two Lights the better. So onward I went, not seeing a single person on the streets and still seeing no damage.
When I reached the coast an ocean breeze was still pushing at about 15 miles per hour. The tide was going out at the time and the rolling waves from last nights chaos were crashing in long periods on the coast, still towering from 6 to 9 feet. Although the waves were incredible to behold, it was the sunrise, spread in front of me, which was the most powerful. On both sides of the sun the dark clouds of Sandy were still present, however, right then I was experiencing the true calm after the storm. The waves broke on the rocks in millions of diamonds illuminated by the warm, yellow light of the sun. The spray produced was pushed by the wind into your face and it smelled of new ocean. I truly attest that the water smelled different than any other day and the tremendous mixing of the waters the night before had somehow changed the waters and how they reacted with the nose.
I sat and watched the sunrise for a long time. The speed that Sandy still moved created a dynamically shifting set of lighting and angles in which to watch the landscape. I moved closer and closer to the water edge until every wave that crashed in front of me sent a soaking spray over me and my camera; I realized quickly how important it was to cover my camera. As I crouched in the rocks the frothy waters would boil over my feet and recede again before being renewed by each new wave. After a short period I moved away from my post at the waters edge and perched 15 feet above the water. In another 10 minutes Sandy had regained control of her domain and again the sky was gray and flat. The waves still crashed, but as they broke in the flat light you would never they had been diamonds just moments before.
The sunrise after Hurricane Sandy may stand out as the most incredible sunrise I will ever experience. This moment I feel was reserved for me alone. I was alone when the sunrise started and was unperturbed by any human as the sun wrestled with the Storm. I only saw one other person on the coast that day, and as far as I know the pictures you see here are the only proof of the beauty of that morning.
Below is a short video of several sequences of timelapse from the morning. I couldn’t dedicate my camera to taking more than short bursts of images because the spray was constantly getting on the lens. Not to mention I needed to aim it in other directions to capture as much as possible! So, if you watch the video below keep that in mind. It’s very short and the waves never look as big actually were.
Thanks for reading everyone! I hope you enjoyed the look into the past as much as I enjoyed writing about this. I hope to continue these reflection pieces from time to time.
6 thoughts on “Photographic Reflection : The Morning After Hurricane Sandy”
James Michener died a number of years ago. Now I’m not quite sure. Wow! Powerful writing on a powerful topic.
I am speechless. Breathtaking images and words, Ian. Thank you for a glimpse into your soul.
Wow Ian, your pictures are perfect & powerfully beautiful! Words do not seem to describe what is seen.
As I have said before I will be first in line to buy the novel that I know Ian will be publishing. His photography is (no words can adequately express this) the best and no words can fully make you understand how his writing has and is constantly surprising us. His writings bring me to the scene and makes me see what he is seeing through his eyes. Thank you Ian.
Thank you Harriet!!
All is remarkable — photos, writing, sentiment, sincerity ….