The Mutable Sea: Reflections on Change

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The Mutable Sea: Reflections on Change

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The Mutable Sea: Reflections on Change, by Lee Anne White.

Whitespace Press, 2013.

Paperback, 70 pp, 56 color photographs, $35. ISBN 978-0-9887928-2-1

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Best known for her landscape and garden photographs, Lee Anne White recently turned her eye to the sea. Through lengthy exposures, taken mostly after sunset, she captures the simultaneous ebb and flow of the tide, the ever-changing nature of the shore, and the colorful reflections of the evening sky in The Mutable Sea: Reflections on Change.

The Mutable Sea is more than a book of photographs, however. With an essay by White and an introductory quote by naturalist Rachel Carson, it provides an opportunity to contemplate the role of change in our lives.

Published by Whitespace Press and printed by Edition One Books in Berkeley, Calif., the 70-page book features 56 color photographs taken on Amelia Island, the southernmost of the southern Sea Islands and the northernmost of islands along Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

White first began photographing the colorful seascapes while shooting the island’s natural habitats as a means of exploring the island and reawakening her sense of vision. “For years, I had photographed gardens and landscape architecture for books and magazines. I loved doing that, yet it was time to explore new subjects in a more artistic than editorial way. What initially resulted was a series of intimate, sometimes abstract images of the island’s marshes, dunes, and maritime forests photographed in black and white. The ocean, however, struck me as anything but intimate. It was so broad, flat and endless. How could I possibly convey that in an intimate manner?”

The answer, White discovered, was in focusing not so much on the way the ocean looked, but the way it made her feel. This meant slowing down—both her pace and the camera’s shutter speed—and that meant shooting in low light. While the images worked in black and white, what she discovered were the rich, colorful reflections of the evening sky in the water. So she also began shooting in color—heading to the beach each day at sunset as others were packing their towels and heading home for the day. She continued to shoot until it  was too dark for focusing through the camera’s viewfinder or she was run off by the beach patrol at curfew.

One of the images from the book was selected by noted photographer Joyce Tenneson for a curated exhibit and book called The View Project, which was featured at the Naples Art Museum in Florida, The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and Gallery 26 in Santa Barbara, Calif. Another image received a Juror’s Choice Award in the Women in Photography International 2013 Annual Competition. Her work has been exhibited locally at both Brenau University and the Quinlan Art Center. According to Melissa Morgan, Brenau University’s Gallery Director, “Lee Anne has captured nature in its splendid beauty. These photographs will make you yearn for the sea, as you can almost smell the salt air and feel the sand beneath your feet.”