Tag Archives: Low Tide

Flooded, Uprooted, Burned: The Tracks of Sandy on the Shore

After TIME commissioned me, along with four other photographers, to capture Hurricane Sandy using Instagram, I and many of my colleagues felt a deep personal need to go back and document the aftermath. I’ve covered disasters in other parts of our country, but this is my hometown, and Sandy was a storm of historical significance. I’ve often found that there is great power in telling difficult stories in a beautiful way. Interest in any given story wanes so quickly, yet it’s only through taking the time to go deeper that we get to a place of real understanding. I had to return to this story, and I wanted try to comprehend the scale of this storm. The only way for me to capture Sandy’s destructive fury was from above.

Stephen Wilkes for TIME

Storm surges over power the coastal areas and flood the streets during low tide in Milford, CT.

On the Sunday after Sandy made landfall, I decided to rent a helicopter and fly over some of the most devastated areas, including the New Jersey shore, Breezy Point and Far Rockaway. It was a beautiful day to fly, but unfortunately that beauty quickly eroded into shock as we began to get close to the coasts. It was everything I’d heard about, but it was difficult to believe what I was actually seeing. Once we got above the shoreline, I really started to understand the scale of the destruction. The expanse of land it ruined, the totality of the devastation — it was like a giant mallet had swung in circles around the area. It was mind numbing.

When I got home that night, the images still in my mind made it impossible to sleep. Through various points of this storm, it felt like we were all living through a science fiction movie. Seeing these devastated towns from above showed the cold reality of this storm’s severity.

From above, I realized how close particular neighborhoods were to bays or oceans. Sometimes, it was a matter of two blocks, and it’s a proximity not immediately apparent when you’re on the ground. In Breezy Point, for example, I knew that more than 80 homes had burned down in a fire, but nothing could have prepared me for what I actually saw. The blackened and charred blocks of homes viewed as a giant physical scar across the landscape. Seeing how much land was affected and yet how many homes were saved, made me think of the firefighters and how hard they must have worked just to contain this fire.

In flying over Staten Island, I was really struck by the marina, and how the boats were physically lifted from the pier and tossed together. It looked like a child’s game—huge, 40-ft. boats being thrown around like toys. We then flew over Oakwood, where I saw a house that had been lifted and dragged through a field of cattails; its path clearly visible days later, having left a trail of destruction through the cattails.

Sandy was a warning shot. I’ve had a unique view of what’s happened on a physical level. But the emotional toll has yet to be measured. It’s my hope that these images serve as a wakeup call — whether that call is about global warming, infrastructure, or just the recognition that the world is changing, it’s a reminder that we need to take special care of our fragile world.


Stephen Wilkes is a fine-art and commercial photographer based in New York. Wilkes was awarded the Photo District News Award of Excellence in 2011 and 2012.

Wilkes’ work will be part of Art for Sandy, a fundraising initiative to support Sandy relief that’s being hosted by 20×200 and TIME.



Photo Show – Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012 images of deep space and beyond on show at the Royal Observatory London

People and Space winner: Venus-Jupiter Close Conjunction by Laurent Laveder (France)

What the photographer says: ‘In this image Venus is higher and on the right of Jupiter. I take my place in the lower right corner of the frame to complete the diagonal formed by me, the two planets, the Pleiades and Taurus. With my red flashlight on my head, I illuminate the beach. At low tide, the sand is wet and is reflecting the blockhaus.’ Taken with Canon 5D Mark II camera; Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/2.0; ISO 3200; 8-second exposure

How could anyone resist posting on the winning images in Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012 competition? Not only are the images beautiful, in the deep sense of the word, but they are also a reminder, at least for me, of our place in an infinite universe. I have seen photos that depict scenes that seem to recall the sheer magnificence of the skies at night but nothing, nothing, comes close to the reality. These images are, for me, sublime in the true sense of the word.

Overall and Deep Space winner: M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy by Martin Pugh (UK/Australia)

What the photographer says: ‘I was always going to be excited about this image given the exceptional seeing conditions M51 was photographed under and the addition of several hours of Ha data has really boosted the HII regions.’ Taken with Planewave 17-inch CDK telescope; Software Bisque Paramount ME mount; Apogee U16M camera.

Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012. Pleiades Cluster by Jacob von Chorus (Canada), aged 15

What the photographer says: ‘This image was a test to see what would happen with such a long exposure. It was taken near dusk, with only two frames and an hour of exposure. This image has since become one of my best.’ Taken with Sky Watcher Equinox 80ED telescope; Celestron CG-5 mount; f/6.25 lens; Stock Canon 100D camera; ISO 800; 30-minute exposure

So, on a sunny Sunday morning as I’m sitting in a kitchen in Prague, I want to share these other worldly delights. The competition is now in in its fourth year and there were over 800 entries from astronomers and astrophotographers from around the world as well as from young astronomers.

“As a centre for science education and communication, the team at the Royal Observatory are keen to encourage an interest in astronomy at a young age to embed a life-long interest in the subject.” With the help of Sky at Night Magazine and the photo-sharing website Flickr, entries were submitted in the categories of ‘Earth and Space’, ‘Our Solar System’, ‘Deep Space’ and ‘Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ as well as ‘Best Newcomer’ and ‘People and Space’ and ‘Robotic Scope’.

The winning images are on show at a free photo exhibition at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London, open daily from 10.00-17.00.

Filed under: Photographers, Photography Shows Tagged: astronomy, Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012, Greenwich, Jacob von Chorus, Laurent Laveder, london, Martin Pugh, Royal Observatory

Several super success stories for photographer Michael Marten

Congratulations to British photographer Michael Marten. His remarkable new photobook Sea Change: A Tidal Journey Around Britain was just published by Kehrer Verlag. The book features diptychs taken from the same point during high tide and during low tide (often just 6 hours and 20 minutes apart).

He met his publisher last year at Lens Culture FotoFest Paris portfolio reviews. And, coincidentally, earlier in 2011, Marten won the Grand Prize in the Portfolio Category of the Lens Culture International Exposure Awards.

He also has a one-man show coming up at [email protected] in London on 26 September. Cheers!

marten-hightide.jpg

marten-lowtide.jpg

© Michael Marten, from his series, and new book, Sea Change.
Salmon fishery, Solway Firth, Galloway. 27 and 28 March 2006.
Low water 5.20 pm, high water 12 noon.

YOU can still enter your photographs and multimedia to win one of Lens Culture International Exposure Awards 2012: lensculture.com/awards. Deadline is September 16, 2012.

AND you can still register for portfolio reviews in Paris (November 12-13-14, 2012): fotofest-paris.com.

Great work deserves to be seen all around the world!

Critical Mass: Michael Marten

Looking at portfolios from Critical Mass 2011…

Born in London, Michael Marten has been working for the past eight years on Sea Change, a study of the tides around the coast of Britain. The views in each diptych are taken from identical positions at low tide and high tide, usually 6 or 18 hours apart. He comes to this work with an interest in science and medicine. In fact, he started a stock agency, the Science Photo Library, that concentrated on science and medicine imagery. He also has been the picture editor and co-author of several books of scientific imagery.

I am interested in showing how landscape changes over time through natural processes and cycles. The camera that observes low and high tide side by side enables us to observe simultaneously two moments in time, two states of nature. Recent landscape photography has often focused on human shaping (and reshaping) of the environment – agriculture, urbanisation, globalisation, pollution. Even when this approach is critical and committed, it also serves to emphasise, even glamorise, humankind’s power over nature. I’m interested in rediscovering nature’s own powers: the elemental forces and processes that underlie and shape the planet.

The tides are one of these great natural cycles. I hope these photographs will stimulate people’s awareness of natural change, of landscape as dynamic process rather than static image. Attending to earth’s rhythms can help us to reconnect with the fundamentals of our planet, which we ignore at our peril. ‘Sea Change’ also comments on climate change. The tide floods in and quickly recedes again, but rising sea levels will flood our shores and not recede for thousands or millions of years. Many of the views in these pictures may have disappeared in 100 years’ time.

‘Sea Change’ is an example of ‘comparative photography’, where two or more images show development in time (or other dimensions). The ‘rephotography’ of Mark Klett, and Nicholas Nixon’s portraits of the Brown sisters, are well-known examples.