Topsail Topsail / by Carey

We spent June 1st through 8th at one of our favorite places on earth:  Topsail Island, North Carolina.  I would probably say that my favorite place to photography in this entire world is at the ocean.  The light and reflections at the seaside are just.... sigh. They are just so beautiful. I love the new challenges of somewhere outside of my norm with such spectacular beauty surrounding me.

I took 3,376 photos.  That is not a typo.  Three thousand, three hundred and seventy six.  WOW!  I am absolutely dying to process them.  Believe it or not, I've never gone back and processed the photos from our beach visit to Topsail two years ago!  Alas.  I have a little girls birthday party to execute, and finances that I'm behind on to do, as well as twenty other around the house projects to do before I can allow myself to DO this set of photos.... but I DID allow myself to edit a handful from our first hour out on our favorite stretch of beach.

beach vacation photo by Carey Pace

Nearly everyone loves the beach, but I find that people's reasons are so varied. It's so fascinating. Some love the ocean waters -- the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel of the salty spray. Some love to walk along the water's edge, feeling the teasing waters lap along their ankles. Some love to be tossed by the waves, have a glimpse of the awesome power of water and the sea, that unparalleled weightless feeling of being lifted up by an oncoming wave and then suddenly dropped low again. Some love the sand, whether just to wiggle your toes in it or to build mighty sand creations only to be destroyed by the next high tide. Some love searching for treasure with the patience of saints as they seek to find a rare shark's tooth or shell. Some love to explore and find the amazing creatures that make their home at the transition from land to sea, whether on foot or via kayak or larger boat. Some love the intensity of the sun, and it's so amazing how much stronger those rays feel with all of the reflection from the sand and water. Some love a beach rife with tidal pools hiding living treasures of all kinds, while others love a steep beach without much land. Some love to fish, whether from the pier or the surf. Others love just getting away from the distractions at home. Some love enjoying the seashore with others, perhaps a large group from home or perhaps even just meeting new folks staying nearby. Some love a beach so secluded that perhaps you don't see another soul all day long. Some find healing, both physical and emotional, by merely the presence of the seashore where the power of the water and wind are so strongly evident. Some love the creative challenge of photographing in a new place with new scenery and new lighting scenarios (I wouldn't know that person). Some like a rocky beach, while others prefer huge expanses of white sand. There are the Outer Banks beaches with their dark and churning intensity that are so different from Myrtle, which is so different from the hard packed wide expanses at Hilton Head, or any of the other South Carolina Island beaches like Pawley's, or Kiawah, or Folly or Edisto. There are the Atlantic Florida beaches, and then there is the whole other side of Gulf Coast beaches with their completely different scenery of soft white sand and crystal clear aqua water. Even more, all of the Northeast beaches I've never set eyes upon. And yet some, too, enjoy other things about going to the beach that really have nothing to do with the ocean like shopping at boutiques or outlet malls, the tradition of much too expensive but often quite elaborately decorated putt-putt golf, ice cream parlors dressed up in a time long since past, eating seafood at new restaurants, and I suppose there is a party scene or nightlife at some beaches as well.

When I see someone ask "where should we go to the beach this year?" or simply "what's your favorite beach", my heart gives pause. You cannot answer that question without qualifiers. For, my reasons to love a place may be the reasons you loathe it. My expectations for a beach vacation may make you shudder because they vary so much from your own. "Going to the beach" is about so much more that simply visiting a place where the ocean meets land. Particularly to an artist heart.

A few years ago I saw a video of the awed reaction of a group of teenage girls who had never been to the ocean before. It breaks my heart that in this day and age where folks travel around the world in a day, give no thought to how far away something is, there are still people who have never been to the seashore. This place on the earth so teaming with power and awe and beauty and might, where God's presence and influence reverberate, where even grown ups turn into kids again some times... everyone should have that at least once.

We've been visiting the southern tip of Topsail Island, NC for the last few years and adore it. It is the perfect answer for our particular family's preferences. It is an introvert's expanse, a nature and creature lover's dream, a fishing wonder, tide pools and waves and smooth sound waters and dunes and soft sand and shallow waters, shells and beach glass, sunsets and sunrises, meals with each other.

I shot these with my

Nikon D800

Nikon 14-24 f2.8

Nikon 85mm f1.8

Nikon 50mm 1.4D

Sigma 35mm f1.4