Nature’s Abstract Art -> Sea Foam Rainbows
“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter”
I’m the first to admit that I don’t always have a plan for my photography. In fact a lack of plan is more often the norm for me. There are certainly days I stroll out with a particular target in mind and those are the days I’ll roll with my very best equipment, but most of the time I’m just wondering around waiting for nature to give me inspiration. For that reason I always carry a pocket camera and my choice for the last 5 years has been the Canon S series. I have an older S100 and this little baby actually takes the majority of my shots on the blog for the very simple fact that I can take it anywhere. I carry my Canon slotted into a protective cover in the side-pocket of my hiking pants. The top is always open so I can whip it out for a shot faster than a western gunslinger, which allows me to satisfy the two main rules of photography -> always have a camera on-hand and always have it ready to be used 🙂
A couple of days ago we were hanging on the beach on a rather overcast and dreary day enjoying our time just playing in the sand. There was nothing particularly inspiring to photograph so I was basically just soaking in nature’s goodness. Soul-soothing stuff all around. The ocean was putting up a good show of waves so I approached the waterline to see if there was anything interesting to shoot. Right by the tide-line we walked into a bunch of frothy, brown(ish) deposits which basically looked like someone was running the laundry machine with a few tons of dirty clothing and spewing the result on the beach. The massive churns of frothy bubbles lay in mile-long lines along the waters edge skating and slipping over the surface with the tides like snake-shaped pucks on ice.
Yuck! What is this rubbish?
Out of sheer curiosity I peered closer and saw something I never expected. Beneath the ugly exterior were hundreds, no millions of bubbles transforming the dismal grey light of the day into a stunning playground of rainbows. Brilliant greens, cherry reds, neon pinks and deep-sea blues were glowing right under my feet. OMG I’ve never seen anything like this…this stuff is gorgeous…it’s frikkin’ amazing!! I whipped out my handy dandy pocket-shooter and started clicking away trying to capture the beauty that had revealed itself to me.
“What in the world are you photographing now?” Paul mumbled as he walked back to find me stuck with my nose in the froth
“Rainbows. Fabulous. I mean, I can’t believe it. Amazing. Can you see this??? I never imagined….” I chirped wild-eyed and woozy with awe
“Errrr….OK. Right, sure. Enjoy yourself then” he replied, backing slowly away
Hubby knows that sometimes it’s better just to let photographing nutters lie…
Turns out my foamy find was actually the decaying remains of phytoplankton (and other dissolved organic matter). At certain times of the year the microscopic algae bloom and die, creating foam-like bubbles as they crash ashore. The organic material acts as a surfactant lowering the surface tension of water just like soap, which in turn is what produces the feather light “lather”. The thin film of each curved surface causes light to reflect and interact giving you the whole spectrum of the rainbow depending on where you look. The more dissolved matter and the wilder the tides, the more frothy creation you get. Isn’t science cool???
Turns out we had the perfect foaming combo at Cape D that afternoon. Lots of the dissolved organic stuff + lots of crazy waves = lots of rainbow creation. I must have photographed for at least 40 mins trying to capture all the angles of nature’s amazing soap. Next day I rushed back with my “big” camera hoping for more of the same, but alas the moment was gone. I only got a few puny bubbles, nothing like the hand-sized magnums of the day before.
To paraphrase the brilliant Ansel Adams, I just happened to be there at the moment of nature’s reveal and was lucky enough to click the shutter to capture it. Gotta love natural art.