Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve

with 25 comments

Two years ago today we stopped along the Pacific Ocean in California at the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve. The first photograph shows you waves breaking toward the shore, moving white mimics of the dark hills fixed beyond them. The second picture show how an occasional wave made it over a rise on the beach and into a shallow depression, there to creep along with a frothy yellow fringe.

Walking away from the surf, I sought out patterns in the dunes and clouds:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 4, 2018 at 4:27 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Magnificent photos, Steve, especially the first one.


    November 4, 2018 at 5:23 AM

    • Kia ora. You’re fortunate to live as close as you do to an ocean. I grew up just half an hour from the Atlantic Ocean but am far from any surf now. I take advantage when I can.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2018 at 6:37 AM

  2. Looking at the first picture I seem to be able to hear the surf.


    November 4, 2018 at 7:47 AM

  3. I wish I could hear it for real again, too. I really like how in the first photo the white froth mimics the line of the distant hills.


    November 4, 2018 at 8:35 AM

  4. Great photos!


    November 4, 2018 at 9:20 AM

  5. That’s a very powerful looking surf!

    Robert Parker

    November 4, 2018 at 11:16 AM

    • Yes, and it gives the lie to the “Pacific” Ocean.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2018 at 11:38 AM

      • And yet, when I sailed from Hawaii to Alaska, despite some variations in conditions the entire trip was relatively placid, and the ocean lived up to its name. Of course it can get stirred up in storm conditions, or where the water meets the shoreline, but it still has a better reputation among the sailors I know than the Gulf of Mexico. Because it’s almost totally enclosed by land, the Gulf can be like a washing machine even on a relatively good day.


        November 4, 2018 at 1:04 PM

        • You sailed from Hawaii to Alaska, the last two territories to become states. I’m glad you found the ocean calm.

          In addition to being largely enclosed, the Gulf of Mexico inherits hurricanes coming in from the Antilles. I’m happy to remain a landlubber.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 4, 2018 at 5:52 PM

  6. I have lived here all my life, and have been outside of California only a few times, but have been to Guadalupe only once back in about 1988 or so. I went to school in San Luis Obispo, and I still write for the Santa Maria Times in Santa Maria, but never got around to going out to the beach in that particular region.


    November 4, 2018 at 12:30 PM

    • Then my visit two years ago can act as an impetus for you to go there too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2018 at 5:27 PM

      • I almost drove through there on my way back more than a year ago, but stayed on 101 like I normally do. When I go, I try to make the drive between here and the Los Angeles region in a day, which does not afford much time for leisurely drives.


        November 4, 2018 at 6:02 PM

  7. There’s no way to pick a favorite from among the photos. The patterns are so remarkably different in each; I’d love to visit the place.

    I did take note of the correspondence between the surf’s shape and the distant hills: another of those ‘nature’s analogies’ that I so enjoy. I once found a cloud hovering above the Brazoria refuge that seemed to be imitating the shape of the Baccharis neglecta on the land. If I ever find it again, I might post it. It’s past time for me to get my files more organized.


    November 4, 2018 at 1:22 PM

    • Fortunately there’s no need to single out a favorite; you’re welcome to them all, and in fact I toyed with showing others as well from that take. I do hope you’ll get there some day and have favorites of your own to choose from.

      When you commented that you took note of the correspondence between the shape of the surf and the distant hills, I was reminded of Baudelaire’s poem “Correspondences”:


      And as you said, clouds are great conveyers of correspondences. We wouldn’t want you to neglect your Baccharis neglecta, so organizing your files sounds like a good thing to do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2018 at 5:38 PM

  8. Very Nice Steve! Beautiful images!

    Reed Andariese

    November 4, 2018 at 7:31 PM

  9. When I glimpsed the first picture I didn’t realize those were mountains in the background, I thought they were more waves. It’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins (as with many things in life).


    November 8, 2018 at 5:44 AM

    • Then for you the notion of the mountains being waves really was an illusion. In looking at the image I picked up on the similarity after the fact but never thought the mountains were anything but mountains. The fact that I’d been there and taken the picture obviously impeded the illusion for me.

      And yes, with many things in life, it’s hard to tell where one thing ends and another begins. Boundaries are often arbitrary.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 8, 2018 at 8:13 AM

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