Ebb and Flood

Posted by on August 12, 2012

Growing up as I did, at least 1,000 miles in any direction from the ocean, I still find tides to be quite mysterious and almost magical.

St Mary’s lighthouse, Whitley Bay, Northumberland. 17 and 20 September 2009. High water 5.50pm, low water 1pm

Where is this mythical “sea level” if the water level changes by 25 feet or so in an 18 hour period?

Blackpool, Lancashire. 16 August 2010. Low water 11.20am, high water 4pm

It makes me dizzy to think that the shore that I stand on is soon to be covered with water deep enough for boating.

Staithes, Yorkshire. 14 September 2004. Low water 9.45am, high water 4.30pm

This amazing series of photos is by Michael Marten. He features the coastlines of the Britain. In an article he wrote for Camera Obscura he notes: “The island of Britain isn’t big by international standards, but its coastline measures 17,800 km if you were to walk round all the headlands, bays, sea lochs and estuaries.” That is a lot of places to explore. “The British coast isn’t just long, it’s extraordinarily varied. There are long sandy beaches, white chalk cliffs, industrial estuaries, harbours large and small, tidal saltmarshes, and great sweeps of flat sand and mud.”

Harbour, Berwickshire. 22 August 2005. Low water 11am, high water 6pm

He seeks out times and places where the water level varies the most from low to high tide. Most of these photos were shot either 6 or 18 hours apart at a ‘spring tide.’ Apparently, the designation of ‘spring tide’ has nothing to do with the season of the year, but rather because they rise higher. The spring tide is in the days around the new moon and around the full moon.

Dwyryd estuary, Gwynedd. 16 and 17 October 2008. Low water 5.10pm, high water 11.10am

Cullen, Moray. 29 and 30 March 2006. Low water 6.40pm, high water 12 noon

Marten hopes his photos will increase awareness of natural change, of landscape as dynamic process rather than static image.

Cuckmere Have, Sussex. 12 August 2006. Low water 9.15am, high water 2.50pm

It is amazing how much land can be swallowed by the sea in a matter of a few hours.

St Ives, Cornwall. 15 June 2011. Low water 12.30pm, high water 6.30pm

North Berwick, East Lothian. 20 August 2005. Low water 11.15am, high water 3.40pm

Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. 16 April 2004. High water 10.10am, low water 4.15pm

His photographs manage to be both technically fascinating and aesthetically beautiful.


All images from Michael Marten’s website

He will be exhibiting this series at Oxo Gallery in London in September, 2012.

One Response to Ebb and Flood

  1. amy h

    Yes, the change is crazy! I’ve been to St. Michael’s Mount, which is also on this photographer’s website. You had to walk out while the tide was out, and if you didn’t make it back out in time, you were stuck if you wanted to walk.