New Hampshire has the shortest coastline of any U.S. state. I decided to try to shoot a compelling image for every mile. It’s a great project. In 18 miles (sometimes say as low as 14) we have jettys, inlets, harbors, rocky coastlines, sandy beaches, boardwalks and more. After some bargaining at home, I got a half-day pass to go shoot the project last Saturday. What could be better than free time to go shoot on the coast? I was psyched.
Online, the weather looked good for my adventure. Saturday morning rolled around and the sky at home in Henniker (an hour inland) was wonderful – blue, lots of wispy clouds – good daytime shooting conditions for landscapes. As I drove to the beach my heart sunk as slowly all clouds disappeared and the sky turned a mid-summers bland, overcast grey.
I planned to begin shooting at Hampton Beach State Park at the southern border of the state and work my way north. Arriving at the park I was less than excited to find it overcrowded, the sky boring and bland, and the ocean almost totally flat. Not good conditions at all for my cool project. I knew I would need interesting skies and a nice swell to really make the project sing. After a few minutes debate I decided to shelve my 18-mile plan for the day, wander the coast attentively, and see if I could wander into some good conditions and images.
Driving north I passed through the Hampton Beach boardwalk area – usually a fun place to shoot street and people images . . . but I was just not in the mood. I wanted something of the sea. Driving along The Wall in Hampton I noticed a group of surfers hanging out at 12th Street. The ocean was almost totally flat 2 miles down the road, but this stretch of beach is known for its ability to amplify the tiniest swell. I pulled over to check it out.
Score. A small but clean long-period swell was filling in. Several long boarders were just getting in the water as I wandered down to the beach. Hey, these guys (and one gal) were good. Very good. Some of the most stylish log riders I’ve ever seen on east coast. They were walking to the front of the board and hanging five and ten toes off the nose. It was a pleasure to watch them ride, and a relief to find something fun to shoot.
After an hour or so it was time to move on. It was close to six pm and I wanted some food. The Beach Plum was just up the road. They are known for a killer lobster roll, and I had to stop for a while. Yum. Next, I headed north and try to find a good location to shoot sunset.
The sky was still cloudless and bland, but I hoped to catch something before heading back home. I drove past Rye on the Rocks and through a crowded Jenness Beach parking lot. I wandered north almost to Wallis Sands, then noticed the sun was getting low. I turned back south and stopped for a few minutes at Rye Harbor. I was amazed how low the water was. Low tide was still an hour away, timed almost exactly with sunset. I shot a couple frames but was not excited about the spot.
I had to make a decision where to set up for sunset. Then I remembered Jenness has a great grouping of zen-pool-like rocks that only show up at low tide. The sky was starting to show a little color as I pulled back in to a now-empty Jenness Beach parking lot. The sun had passed below the tree line, but the sky was turning a beautiful pink. The wet low-tide sand was reflecting all that color. I grabbed my bag and tripod and headed for the waterline.
I spent the next hour shooting this beautiful rock garden and ocean as all light slowly left the sky. In the end, with some patience and flexibility I found what I was looking for – some great images, shot at a beautiful beach, and the quiet time to enjoy making them – and even squeaked out a blog post too. Enjoy!
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