Presence And The Present Moment

Footprints & Tire Tracks in Sand


In this image I observe and celebrate the aesthetic of the present moment, happenings and combinations of elements that once existed and are gone. In this instance, the patterns and textures lasted perhaps a day at most before being lost to the incoming tide. It’s the story of impermanence, of risings and fallings, comings and goings, syntropy and entropy, processes that urge us to appreciate what is given as it’s given.

As a document, there’s an abundance of information here. It tells a story of two-footed creatures who’ve evolved sufficiently to create a highly patterned, well organized mechanism capable of making a linear imprint in sand. Geologists could derive information about the planet and the time the photograph was made, just from the material and shadows. We can only imagine the significance of a robot that would capture a similar image on the surface of another planet.

Aesthetically, the elements of patterned light and shadow evoke in me a sense of beingness. A person walked or stood there long enough to make an impression in the sand. And a vehicle came along, leaving its imprint as well. Although this is obvious, it’s not the information that moved me to make the photograph. It was an attraction to the quality of light that interrupted my walk on the beach—how it was creating textures and illuminating the pattern of the tire. It was only later, when I spent time thinking about the image, that I began to catch the sensibility of being— the wonder of presence and the fleeting precious moment.

By letting go of our conceptual beliefs and judgments, by letting go of rules and just being present in the moment, we perhaps gain our true humanity. We see.

George DeWolfe

About This Image

Title: Footprints In The Sand

File: DF 215

Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

I was walking on the beach about an hour before sunset when I came upon these imprints in the sand. Because I primarily photograph light and what it’s doing, I only tangentially think about the subject. Especially I try not to name or describe it. Neither do I say anything about it. Instead, I regard the subject as a complex of visual elements, forms and textures illuminated in such a way that gradation and contrast become predominant. Beyond looking and identifying what we see, whether in reality or an image of reality, the aesthetic quest calls us to perceive as if through new eyes.

I think it’s this that largely distinguishes the documentary approach from expressive photography. Both are creative acts and both have value. Documentation represents the subject. Expression represents how we feel about it, the impression it makes on us or what it evokes in us. I do both, depending on circumstances.

In this instance I moved around the imprints in the sand while looking through the viewfinder, trying to find the relationship between the forms, textures and variations in light that maximized my aesthetic sensibilities and best expressed my impression of the subject. You may notice: It’s next to impossible for a person to stand in a position to leave these impressions. I haven’t been able to figure it out.

I invite you to visit my portfolio site: David L. Smith Photography




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