Sand ripples -- a photographic study

In Ipswich, Massachusetts, there’s a magnificent beach, Crane Beach, whose pale sands run for miles between sea and dunes, whose low-slung slope reveals vast stretches of hard-packed sand at low tide. In warm weather it’s thronged with sunbathers, swimmers, picnickers, and so forth. In the off-season people come to let their dogs run free and play; to ride horses at walk, trot and gallop down its miles-long sweep; to fly kites; to scavenge for driftwood, shells, and whatever a metal detector may discover; to run; to watch the birds; or simply to walk, enjoying the bracing sea air, savoring the immensity of sky, sea and sand.

I go there often to walk. One thing that always fascinates me is the amazing diversity in how the outgoing tide sculptures the sand. Having recently given myself a digital SLR for a 60th birthday present, I decided to see if I could capture that diversity.

This is the result. So far, from three walks, I have garnered 71 pictures, each one distinctive.

Like this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or… Well, suffice it to say that I don’t expect to run out of subjects any time soon.

If you’re game to see the entire album, may I recommend the slide show? The images are arranged in the order they were taken.

I love sand pictures and yours are fantastic. May I use some of them in my computer screensaver? I think my favorite is 11sand. And 4sand, and 5 sand.

Great work ETF!

Thank you. I would be honored.

Great pictures.

I always thought the sand ripples on beaches were pretty. Those are perfect examples of why.

As someone interested in photography, may I say that I admire both your eye for composition and your ability to produce a mood? Wonderful slideshow, although perhaps you might want to consider making a smaller version of the ones you consider absolutely the best.

Thank you, Dervorin. My recent acquisition is a Canon Rebel XTi, with a Tamron 28-75 mm zoom lens.

I’m working right now on another album, of wide-view beach shots that will give you an idea of the sweep of this beach. I’ll post the link when it’s done (although it will be a work in progress, added to after each trip to the beach, I hope).

I used to teach a grad sedimentology lab and for grins have a collection of sand samples from every beach I’ve visited around the world. You think I’m not goin’ gaga over your pics?

Something you might enjoy sometime is taking a shovel along on one of your next beach trips and cutting a trench down into some of the more interesting surface expressions. It’s pretty fascinating to explore these in an additional dimension.

Here at the office we have some displays of exactly that, sand peels. They take a board, cover it with an epoxy and press it against a trench wall until it hardens. The laminate is then framed and we’ve probably thirty different examples of varied sedimentological patterns.

Nice work, ETF. I’d love to live nearer an environment like yours.

That sounds like fun, to take sand peels! Although The Trustees of Reservations might frown upon someone digging into their beach.

When I clicked on your sand peels link I was refused entry, wince I didn’t have a username and password for that site, alas.

And the Crane’s Beach album is up! Only 32 pictures so far, but I look forward to adding to it.

This picture is one of my favorites. The wind was whipping sheets of fine sand across the flats. I love how abstract sky and sea are, and all of the beach, save for the snag of driftwood and line of half-filled footprints in the foreground.

Oh, I forgot to add, lieu, that besides the sands of Crane’s Beach, we have other beaches that are much more pebbly, and the variety of kinds of rock in the pebble mix is simply amazing. I don’t have to tell you that the glaciers left the New England coast with a bounteous harvest of visitors.

Beautiful pictures! You did a great job.

I looked at the title of the series and it sure the hell looked like “beach nipples” to me!

This makes me think of the scene in American Beauty where Ricky shows his footage of the plastic bag dancing in the wind. It’s marvelous to encounter an aesthetic sensibility that makes you want to scream “Yes! I see the same beauty there that you do, thank you for capturing it.”


Aw, um… Gosh. Thank you.

Funny thing is, I’ve always seen beauty in stuff like this. I was going through an old box of photos a while ago and came to some pictures I’d taken waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy back when I was a teenager, with an ancient (even then) all-manual, need-a-handheld-light-meter little camera, and black and white film. And by damn if I wasn’t doing this sort of photography even back then. Hopefully I’ve learned and grown over the last, what – 45 years? Good grief.

Heh – thinking of those ancient photos drove me to dig them out. My, my! I’m off to scan them into jpegs and see what you think.

And by golly, the ancient photos have been found, scanned into jpegs, and uploaded into a Webshots album!

They’ve also moved me to open a thread in Cafe Society, to talk about how one’s earliest work is reflected (or not) in one’s mature work.


God’s fingerprint.

Beautiful pictures - you’ve given me impetus to work on getting my slideshow of winter pictures on the net.

To my dismay I’ve never had the opportunity to do field work up there. There was one time though that someone here had a thread asking to help identify a formation and in my research I did see just what you mention. It’s quite a story they tell to anyone willing to listen.

Those B&Ws are wonderful.

Thank you! I hope someday you do get a chance to do fieldwork here. We’ve got some lovely eskers for you, lots of nice rock outcroppings, and beaches just teeming with all sorts of earthy goodness.

Would you like it if I wandered over to our more pebbly shores and did some studies of beach pebbles?

Oh, and are you (I shamelessly hope :D) sharing the link to my ripples album with your colleagues?

Bonus: Here’s a nice essay on New England stone walls.