05.03.20: Boat on a sea of blue

A sailboat in the English Channel is surrounded by blue water and sky when viewed from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.

A sailboat in the English Channel is surrounded by blue water and sky when viewed from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.

A different view from the Normandy cemetery

‍Tech specs

  • Date/time: July 19, 2018, 3:19 p.m.
  • Location: 49°21'36.912" N 0°51'10.812" W (Show in Google Maps)
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II 
  • Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Aperture: f/4.5
  • Shutter: 1/1250th second
  • ISO: 100

‍Two summers ago my wife and I joined two friends for a very enjoyable trip to France. We visited museums, a great number of centuries-old churches and a number of very interesting small towns along the Seine River as we worked our way from Paris to Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy along the English Channel for visits to various historic D-Day sites from World War II. 

‍We closed the day with a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial that contains the remains of 9,388 American military dead. Most were killed during the June 6, 1944 World War II D-Day invasion of Normandy and the military operations that followed.

‍The cemetery was a very solemn and quiet place on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel. The 172-acre site is lined with white marble headstones.

‍I took a lot of photographs in the cemetery, then walked down a hill to an observation platform overlooking Omaha Beach and the channel.

‍There was one small sailboat in sight on the channel, a small white dot on a sea of blue. I was traveling with a limited number of lenses, none of them suitable to get a closer shot of the boat, but the more I looked at the scene the more interesting it became. A light fog or mist hung on the horizon, obscuring the line between water and sky. It created a smooth gradation from the mid-tone blue in the foreground to the lighter blue in the sky. The tiny white dot of the sailboat provided a small focal point in a massive field of blue (referred to as negative space by photographers and artists).

‍I really liked the mood created by the scene, a feeling of isolation, of smallness. So I put on the longest lens I carried on the trip (a 70-200 zoom), set it at its longest length and took a couple of shots. Then I forgot about it and headed back up the hill for more photos of the cemetery.

‍When we returned home a week or so later and I started going through the thousands of photos of churches, street scenes, castles and museums I shot on the trip, this photo jumped out at me. And it has become my most favorite photo from a trip filled with favorite photos.

A light fog or mist hung on the horizon, obscuring the line between water and sky. It created a smooth gradation from the mid-tone blue in the foreground to the lighter blue in the sky. The tiny white dot of the sailboat provided a small focal point in a massive field of blue.