Treasures at the seashore

The Wadden Sea

A Japanese oyster shell at the Wadden Sea

Summer holidays are over but one of the things I love to do during those days is walk along the beach for hours on end.
Just searching for treasures from the sea.
In Denmark where I was, you know you’ll be looking for fossils and amber. Sometimes you will find some sea glass also. A nice product coming from both nature and man.

I do not know exactly what it is that attracts me in this activity.
It must have something to do with nature revealing its secrets. There is this sense of wonder when you find things which have been there for many years. Things that are suddenly uncovered by the movements of the sea or washed ashore. Like fossils teaching us about the past.
But what is true for many beachcombers applies to me as well. Searching the beaches makes you calm and peaceful. It refers to our childhood where time didn’t seem to exist and the beach was just one big adventure.
I guess this is something many people can relate to.

Beach combing once started out of sheer poverty. Inhabitants of fishing communities looked for things that they could use or sell.
Today it is pure luxury. It is not so much about the things itself but about the experience of finding it.
Although I do love the growing collection I have at home. It consists of all kinds of things like shells, fossils, bones, sea glass, amber and lots of different stones.

Even while I am working I collect all sorts of things.
For instance when I am at the Wadden Sea making pictures. I always seem to carry a lot of stuff home with me from this kind of getaways.
Many times I have no idea why I take these things with me and then moments later they suddenly appear in one of my images.
As you can see in the picture accompanying this article. The image comes from my ongoing series in which I am visualizing the Wadden Sea coast.

The foreground shows a Japanese oyster shell.
These where introduced in the Netherlands in 1963 because the native species decimated and today you can find many of them. Seen as an annoyance by some, but by others as an important contribution to the ecosystem. Since oyster reefs provide a habitat for many other lifeforms such as crabs, seaweeds and mussels.
To me the odd shaped and ornamental shells are just beautiful and a desirable item to collect.

Whenever I find them I always take them home with me.
To just put one in my bag on another day when go out shooting.
Like when I found this small puddle in one of the salt marshes along the Wadden Sea coast. I wanted to make a long exposure there and walked around with the idea for a few weeks. But something was missing.
Until I took an oyster shell to put in the foreground of the picture.

It is not the first time that I am doing something like this.
If you look at my portfolio you will find some more related images.
These found objects deal with impermanence and the passage of time. To me those are the issues that I like to show in my pictures. Always in connection with the landscape.

Just look at the picture and imagine the oyster shell wouldn’t be there.
Wouldn’t it be less interesting? To me it would.
And the landscape itself? I don’t know but when I came back to collect my pinhole camera after 48 hours I left the oyster shell there. Right at the same spot. Again in a place where it doesn’t belong. For someone else to find and wonder.

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