The Story of the Shell


After the sun came up at Botany Bay Plantation (Edisto Island, SC) I turned my attention away from the beach scenes and started thinking shells. Watching the waves come in, washing over shells of all sizes I began thinking about a blurred water shot with one shell as the main subject. I won't try to convince you I found this conch shell in just the right spot, at the perfect angle. This was definitely a set-up shot. I found a shell I liked and got to work creating the image I visualized. I placed the shell near the upper reaches of the incoming waves. It was a tricky balance because I wanted the water washing around the shell, but if the water came in too strong it would move the shell. There were a number of times I went into the surf chasing after my shell as the waves threatened to sweep it away. By placing the shell further up the beach the water was more gentle when it reached the shell, and thereby less likely to disturb it.

Timing was also an important decision. My more successful shots were taken when the water was being pulled back out to sea. When the water was going out it was being pulled around the scattered shells, producing better definition in the water. Also, the outgoing water was less likely to jostle the shell. Once I determined the exposure (~0.5sec) and figured out the timing, it was time to watch the water and shoot, shoot, shoot. I took 24 pictures of this set-up of the conch shell. And while the above image isn't the only keeper, there were no more than a handful. Here's the spread of images:


The blog image is the highlighted thumbnail. The images are in sequence; you can see I got "the shot" about three-quarters of the way through. It was a highly variable situation with the waves going in and out, and the water reaching different places in the sand. Since the appearance changed so much from one shot to the next I definitely wanted options when editing.