Sands of Tide

July 01, 2016  •  38 Comments

Sand in SunriseSand in SunriseSand Peaks in Sunrise

Sand Peaks in Sunrise Light.

Summer in Florida calls for the beach, the sun, the cool ocean waves, and a gentle breeze.  While I'm all about being immersed in our Florida waters, when at the beach my eye is often drawn to patterns in the sand.  All the elements - earth (sand), air (wind), water (waves and tides), and fire (sun) collaborate to create incredibly diverse, elegant, and creative art in the grand shoreline etch-a-sketch. And like the Zen rock/sand gardens and Buddhist sand mandalas, this carefully crafted beauty is swept away by the same rhythms that drive its creation, only to be replaced by a new masterpiece.  No two are ever alike. As I study these and the many gifts of nature, I am profoundly moved. And my faith is somewhat restored, that there is indeed underlying method to the madness of the world.  Earth will survive despite us (and whether we do or not).

So in honor of Summer and Sand, and the Knife and Brush of Mother Artist, here are some of the moments I've captured of her work.

Fractaline RidgeFractaline Ridge

Fractaline Ridge.

Sand RibsSand Ribs

Sand Ribs.

Sandhill IllusionSandhill Illusion

Sandhill Illusion.

Wind CalligraphyWind Calligraphy

Calligraphy of the Elements.

Striations in SandStriations in Sand

Closer view.

Beach Sands VBeach Sands V

And closer still.

Snakeskin WaterSandSnakeskin WaterSandPatterns emerge as tannic pond water overflows across the beach sand into the Gulf.

Overflow. Tannic water escapes a brimming dune lake as it snakes a channel across the beach.

Corrugated SandCorrugated Sand

Corrugations.  How does this happen?!

Sand Stones ThreeSand Stones Three

Three Stones.  Dry sand, blowing from higher on the beach, is caught by these tiny blockades.

Wind SculptingWind Sculpting

Textures. Wet sand at Indian Pass was whipped into a decorative stucco by stiff winds.


Beach Sands IIBeach Sands II

A Web of Beach Sands. Black minerals come to the surface in some of the tiny pools, now dry.


More black minerals and a "looser brush".

Blackwater SandsBlackwater SandsAfter a rain on a Blackwater River sandbar. FL.

Blackwater Sand. Here, the black minerals are brought to the surface after a heavy rain on a white-sand beach of the Blackwater River.


Oysters of SandOysters of Sand

Oysters of Sand.

Seep TreesSeep Trees

Seep Trees. As the tide ebbs, water caught in the higher sands gathers into small drainage "creeks".

Juicy Waves of SandJuicy Waves of Sand

Juicy and sparkling. As the gentle waves recede with the tide, they leave these amazing echos in the sand.

Edges and Ridges.Edges and Ridges.

Edges and Ridges. A whole ecosystem of lifeforms thrives here.

Sand CastlesSand Castles

Sand Castles. Dried algae and other sticky organics can glue surface sand into a crust as it dries.  Where the crust is toughest, castles can rise, here in the early morning light, when the looser grains tumble away in the wind.

Stormy SandStormy Sand

Stormy Sand. For my sand-art photos, low raking light often plays an important role in bringing out the relief and detail.

Faces in SandstoneFaces in SandstonePoint Lobos, CA

Stone Face.  OK, a little abstract, but it's there. Forces of nature and time can turn sand to sandstone.  Then the erosive forces get a whole new medium to work with.

Sandstone VortexSandstone Vortex

Sandstone Vortex.

Sand ScallopsSand Scallops

Scalloped Edge. Light plays across the ridges and gullys left by receding waters.

Sandy ScallopsSandy ScallopsMashes Sands

Mashes Sands. Here's another scalloped edge.

Misty MountainsMisty Mountains

Misty Mountains in the Sand.  This composition of sands reminded me of pictures I've seen of the mountains in Zhangjiajie, China.

Star DustStar Dust

Star Dust. Life finds refuge and sustenance in the sea's edges.

Wildlife CollaborationWildlife CollaborationSt. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Wildlife Collaboration. The food chain starts with the microbial life, lending color to this image. Then the small critters crawl in to feast and draw their trails. And finally the finger-painting birds arrive to partake of the snails and crustaceans.  And the masterpiece is complete. 

Sand man DalaSand man Dala

Sand Mandala... Er, SANDmanDOLLAR? 

Sand Dollar SwooshSand Dollar Swoosh

Sand Dollar Swoosh.  Here's the living version, sifting through the sand for food.

Blue Crab ArtBlue Crab ArtWatery impression of an underwater blue crab burying itself in the sand. St. Vincent Island, FL

Blue Crab Art. Tucking into the sand bed in defense, soon all that will show are its stalked eyeballs.

Living Beach SandLiving Beach Sand

Living Sand. Walking the Gulf beaches, look closely as the wave recedes... the sand comes alive with coquinas.


Sanderblur. Sanderlings skitter along the leading edge of the beachwash, snatching up morsels that live there. I tried to capture their speed and synchronicity and how they merge with the visuals and rhythms of the waves.

Pre-Sand. While our white (and black) beach sands come from stony mountains washed down rivers, some of Florida's shores make their sands by  tumbling seashells in the shorewash.

I hope you have enjoyed my romp through one of my more abstract portfolios, that you might share the wonder and curiosity about these artsy forms in nature with me... and perhaps you too are reassured by their orderly-yet-random beauty, and how that may translate to the bigger picture.

I am always grateful for your comments here at my blog, and for your spreading the word (link) far and wide.  Enjoy your summer and dip your toes in the sea, river or lake. You might see something cool at water's edge too.




Tom Morris(non-registered)
Hi David

Just lovely. There are quite a few spots where there are great sand bottoms in our aquifer caves. I love to skin my light along at a low angle just above the bottom to make the patterns stand out.
a nice exploration of the canvas. Thanks.
Katy NeSmith(non-registered)
Absolutely stunning!
Deborah Mitchell(non-registered)
A sand art show, my compliments to you David.
Jeanne Back(non-registered)
Exquisitely, mind-trippingly beautiful!
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