“But the sea which no one tends is also a garden
when the sun strikes it and the waves are wakened.
I have seen it and so have you when it puts all flowers to shame.”
– William Carlos Williams
A series of images from the Sonoma Coast in California.
The beaches of the Sonoma Coast, which stretch along the borders of California about 25 miles north of San Francisco, are littered with a variety of rocks ranging from the small to the very large, from the oddly and dramatically-shaped to the typical mounds and piles most of us are used to seeing at a beach. Some sit in seeming solitude; some gather in small groups; some congregate in large crowds even sitting on top of one another; others are split by the incessant rise and fall of the tides with its waves rushing in and out to the melodies of its movements. In the summer, the fog often thickens the atmosphere and in the winter and spring the rain and its clouds saturate the coast– the sun often insisting that its presence still be felt even as it is blanketed.
I visited and photographed the Sonoma Coast often from 2013-2019– and these images represent my attempt to catch some of its spirit– some of its inherent silences.
About Nathan Wirth
I am a self-learned photographer who uses a variety of techniques— including long exposure, infrared, and intentional camera movement— to express my unending wonder of the fundamental fact of existence by attempting to focus on the silence that we can sometimes perceive in between the incessant waves of sound that often dominate our perceptions of the world. I earned both my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English Literature from San Francisco State University and bring to my photography a deep appreciation of poetry. Poets such as George Oppen, Gary Snyder, Seamus Heaney, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Lorine Niedecker, and George Mackay Brown have played a fundamental role in shaping my attention to the things and places that I photograph. Often returning to the same locations many times, I seek to explore the silence and the sublimity of those places.
Recently, I have been studying and integrating into my work Japanese traditions of Zen, ikebana, rock gardens, ma, and calligraphy– as well as the transience, impermanence, and imperfections of wabi-sabi. My study of Zen writings have led me to the practice of trying to achieve, while working on my photography, a mind of no-mind (mu-shin no shin), a mind not preoccupied with emotions and thought, one that can, as freely as possible, simply create.
I also curate and edit, slices of silence, an online place to read and view conversations about photography. Visit Blog
You can explore more of my photography at Visit Website
Nathan, after living in San Francisco for the first 44 years of his life, moved to Marin County in 2010 and currently makes his living teaching English Composition at City College of San Francisco.
You can find Nathan Wirth on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Nathan Wirth. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.