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Sand Clouds

Seth Willingham


Behind the Shot

Seth spends much of his free time surfing the waves off Southern California’s Dana Point. Dana Point is known for its surf as well as its whale watching and dolphin tours. “I’m usually on a surfboard and I never see this view. When a wave breaks or a cleanup set comes through, the wave kicks up sand and silt or seaweed or whatever, and it just looks like nothing. From way above it, though, you can see these huge plumes of sand quickly making these clouds. In this frozen moment you can see the clouds, and 10 seconds later all of this sand is gone, back to the bottom of the ocean floor. Every wave is different. There’s no two waves that are the same. When it breaks, the patterns it makes are never going to be the same. It will never look like this again.”

Describing the scale of the scene in the photograph, Seth points out, “You can see the tiny surfers just outside of the chaos. If they’d been any closer they would have gotten cleaned out by the waves.”