North Shore Journal: Part Two

I lied. I did put some color in here, but the idea is the same. Like I said in the first post about this project, my underlying theme was 35mm black and white. But, each year I would choose another side project, native to a different format and concept.

You ever hear of the term “The Salt Line?” Well, the salt line is what you cross when you are driving near the ocean and suddenly you can smell the salt, the water and the tide. This is a critically important line. It is said that in places like Mississippi and Louisiana that the entire culture changes when you cross this line. I believe it, I really do.

So after returning to Hawaii over and over I began to notice a few things, and I began to notice them first in myself. Life was stressful at that time, just as it is now, so when I would exit the plane in Honolulu I could FEEL my body begin to relax. Even though the work ahead of me was considerable, it was different. I would exit the plane, rent a car, drive north and enter my home away from home, the Turtle Bay. I would grab my suit, my flip flops and I would walk to the waters edge and just stare. I would stop. I would freeze. And I was not alone.

I realized that the salt line in Hawaii represented something very dramatic. It meant everything. I began to track hotel newcomers as they arrived then jettisoned their bags and did the exact same thing I did. They would stagger to the waters edge and lust after something they couldn’t find back home…..peace. It was precisely this reason I made these images. I spent an entire trip wandering the salt line area looking for people, for things that represented this place. I wanted you to feel what I felt, what these other folks felt.

To do this I needed to choose a technique that would assist me in my quest. What struck me at the time was to make images that looked like charcoal sketches(I have zero ability to actually make them with charcoal.) Problem was I didn’t know how to do this. So, I started testing. And I tested. And tested. And finally I found a way. This was the fun part folks, especially when you consider it was film based testing, meaning it was SLOW. I wasn’t sitting at a computer “playing around.” I was torturing myself. I ended up with the Hasselblad and after landing on Oahu I started in.

I realized the power of the salt line transcended sport, development and my own brain. I saw things I never noticed before. One long exposure at a time. Working this way forced me to think, to really think, about what I was doing, what I was including. I also honed my technique, adding wrinkle after wrinkle, taking insane photographic chances like spending a half day doing one exposure then blowing it at the last minute. I didn’t care because I believed in where I was heading. And I had the Mai Tai waiting at the Turtle Bay. Just kidding.

You see, this is what pure photography is about for me. It’s about time. It’s about focus. It’s about working toward a greater good in some odd way. And I don’t mean greater good in the world. I mean a totally selfish greater good of trying to make insanely good photos. I fail most of the time. That is probably pretty obvious.

This salt line project will continue. Perhaps not in Hawaii, but it will continue. I have a current project that focuses on this area, but not in quite the same way. I sometimes dream about living on the North Shore, at least part time, or going even further and going off the grid in Kauai, trying to find a place that is all about not being found. I dream, but I think someday it will be a reality. You will hear from me no more, you will see me no more, but if you walk to the waters edge and relax….maybe we can still connect.

29 responses to “North Shore Journal: Part Two”

  1. Unconventional, immersive, evocative!

  2. mike a says:

    i really love this set of photos

  3. Ed says:

    Both this and the first post are beautiful, really beautiful, in the quality of images and writing. I hope one day to cross the salt line in Hawa’ii. I hope there is more to come on this here on the blog as well as in your work!

  4. lionelb says:

    Not detracting from the others, image six is exceptional. It should be on a wall where people — lots of people —can stand and gaze and maybe find some peace. Square. Had to be. Total class.

  5. Mark Olwick says:

    I love both the sentiment and the photos, Dan. Absolutely gorgeous images. I have those same dreams.

    Thanks for sharing.


  6. Suzanne says:

    Great post, Daniel! I love the salt line… never heard this term before, but I’ve passed it on the way to Cape Cod from time to time, light is different, the smell in the air… ahhhh…. great pictures…

  7. Paul Joyce says:

    Really great photos and I really love the North Shore Journal series. As for the ‘salt line’ I never really knew how to describe it myself to others but you’ve done it perfectly. There is nothing better/more relaxing than a trip to the ocean and getting that first smell of the sea air. It’s something hard for me to achieve these days, living in mainland Europe (Munich).

    Just a thought, maybe some of the NSJ photographs can go into the next Manifesto when you get around to it! 🙂

    Have a great Christmas break

  8. Gregory says:

    I do the same at the shore. It’s a feeling, like coming home to recharge . Christmas day I’ll be on the RI short for a time. Perhaps there will a photo in a similar vein.
    Thank you.

  9. Eric Labastida says:

    This post makes me wanna get my 6×6 tuned up for some slow times. Really awesome squares!

  10. Brian Miller says:

    Really nice, Dan. I love this as well as the previous series. I don’t think I’ll ever think of the salt line in quite the same way again. And there is something so, …so, so….well, I don’t know how to describe how I feel about long exposures. Magical, ethereal, other wordly, effervescent, mysterious, dreamy, nightmarish, etc. etc.
    Great stuff, as usual.

  11. Brendan says:

    Thanks for posting this Dan, great stuff.
    I spent 36 years no more than a couple of miles from the salt line (20 of them were working with it), but the past 4 has been inland- I’ve got to get back!
    Have a Happy Christmas and New Year

  12. Charlene says:

    Just read Part One together with this, and it’s beautiful. I experience a similar sort of peace in the bush, or out in the ocean (been a while since the latter, unfortunately). They offer the scale that refocuses perspective and removes the mental clutter of city living. Love the meditative quality of the images you’ve posted in both, and as always, the words. Incredibly evocative. Have a good Christmas and New Year in S. America!

  13. Cathy says:

    Oh wow. Yes…more please! Your work – and your whole career really – is a breath of fresh air amongst the explosion of imagery on the internet.

    We all overuse the term ‘inspirational’, but in the case of your work – it really, really is.

  14. dj says:

    Nice Work- thanks Dan- Love the sq format !

  15. Dan!

    I just returned from the North Shore and found your site and project online. Amazing thing is… I was shooting a 6×6 medium format b&w project as well. I shot/experimented quite a bit, so it will take me a while to get the project together, but I’ll shoot you a message when it’s ready.
    I’m so happy to find someone who appreciates the North Shore for more than just its tropical beauty. (But don’t get me wrong, that is part of the appeal for me, that and the waves!)
    More to come.


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