Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Small shells aplenty

with 20 comments

Shell Debris on Beach 8505

You’ve already seen several pictures from February 26th showing natural features along Little Manly Beach on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. On that late afternoon I’d worked until the declining light forced me stop, even though there was more to do. On February 27th, my last morning in New Zealand before having to head to the airport around noon, I walked back down to the beach at dawn and picked up where I’d left off. Here you see the chaos of little shells and rocks I found in one spot.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 18, 2015 at 5:12 AM

20 Responses

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  1. So good you took some time out before flying away

    Chas Spain

    July 18, 2015 at 6:04 AM

    • I’d meant to take pictures along that beach for some time, but weather and other circumstances kept getting in the way. I finally made it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 18, 2015 at 9:00 AM

  2. This image and your mention of chaos reminds me of Eliot Porter’s collaboration with James Gleick “Nature’s Chaos”.

    Steve Gingold

    July 18, 2015 at 6:21 AM

  3. Oh, I do love a beach scene 🙂


    July 18, 2015 at 8:56 AM

    • It’s good to be seen as the photographer of a beach scene, which I hope you’ll rate at least a B scene. Had I found the right native insect it could even have been a bee scene, and the right tree could have turned it into a beech scene.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 18, 2015 at 9:17 AM

  4. Beautiful images!


    July 18, 2015 at 11:13 AM

  5. Some beaches have more shells than others. We have mostly driftwood and rubbish. Not to mention pebbles. Nice finds.

    Raewyn's Photos

    July 18, 2015 at 3:49 PM

    • When we were on the beach in Hokitika we saw lots of sculptures that had been made from driftwood.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 18, 2015 at 6:06 PM

  6. Beautiful but not a beach for bare feet.


    July 18, 2015 at 10:59 PM

    • This spot would have been the hardest on bare feet, but there were smoother areas as well. That said, I saw hardly any people on this beach, and none barefoot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 18, 2015 at 11:11 PM

  7. I always find the auger shells particularly attractive and–only when they are present in great numbers–often keep a few to study and to add to our potted plants at home. Did you find any cat’s eyes, i,e., stubs of spiral shells worn flat like buttons? I studied the blowup of your photo and didn’t see any. They are my favorites!


    July 19, 2015 at 5:49 AM

    • So it seems like auger shells augur well for you.

      No, I didn’t see any cat’s eyes of the type you mentioned, which I don’t think I’m familiar with. I have seen, though not recently, cat’s eye marbles. Similarly, I’ve seen the mineral called tiger’s eye, which Wikipedia calls “a chatoyant gemstone,” in which description I recognize the French word for cat, which is chat, which is also what we’re having here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2015 at 7:14 AM

  8. Looking at those finely-ground shells, I thought Little Manly Beach must be fairly well exposed. I went looking, and found this great topographical map of New Zealand that really helps to give context to some of your photos. Texas has a coastline, but New Zealand has a Coastline!.

    The photo brought to mind this, from Eliot’s “Dry Salvages”:

    “The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
    The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
    Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
    Its hints of earlier and other creation:
    The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
    The pools where it offers to our curiosity
    The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
    It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
    The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
    And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
    Many gods and many voices.”


    July 19, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    • Looking at that map brings back so many memories of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, and especially Little Manly Beach. Your sentence sums it up well: “Texas has a coastline, but New Zealand has a Coastline! I saw only certain parts of it, but all of them were scenic and spoke to my curiosity in many voices. These shells were indeed some of the losses the sea tosses up for my gain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2015 at 11:13 PM

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