Tidal Rhythms

Change and Resilience at the Edge of the Sea

Barbara Hurd, Stephen Strom

No photographer since Edward Weston has photographed the tidal waters and beaches of the Pacific Coast as Stephen Strom has, with an eye toward a rising sea and uncertain future.
Date Published :
January 2017
Publisher :
George F Thompson Publishing
Illustration :
116 color photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781938086458
Pages : 176
Dimensions : 10.5 X 10 inches
In stock


Tidal Rhythms: Change and Resilience at the Edge of the Sea is a collaborative effort by photographer Stephen Strom and award-winning essayist Barbara Hurd. Strom’s images, taken along beaches in the Gulf of California and the Northern California and Oregon coasts, document a world teeming with ancient life-forms, clinging to rocks and finding nourishment but revealed for only a few hours before the tidal waters return. The primitive flora and fauna together create transient marine landscapes whose complex patterns resonate with what we humans perceive as beauty.

Following the rhythms of Strom’s images as they travel between intimate portraits and expansive vistas, Hurd’s lyrical and philosophical essays both continue and complicate those cadences as she explores not just resonance, but also disturbance. As artist and writer move us from high tide to low tide and from the panoramic to the minuscule and back again, the reader is confronted with the larger issues of what happens as the seas rises, warms, and acidifies. Tidal zones are one of the first landscapes to be threatened—almost invisibly—by global climate change. Mussels, barnacles, and tidal pools are flung and ruffled or warmed and acidified in ways that stress the lives of those who live there. Shells begin to thin, species migrate north, and habitats literally disappear, yet few people are even aware of these amazing environments.

Change, of course, is part of an ancient pattern. For billions of years, the sea has risen and fallen, and life-forms have managed to adapt or not. But the current pace of change confronts us with a new and urgent question: Can the long-established but delicately balanced worlds between tidelines evolve rapidly enough to enable continued sustenance and maybe even a new beauty? In Tidal Rhythms, we are given the gift of a new world-view.

About The Author

Barbara Hurd is an author, essayist, and teacher in the M.F.A. writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her essays have appeared in Audubon, Best American Essays, The Georgia Review, Orion, and The Yale Review, among many others, and her books include Listening to the Savage/River Notes and Half-Heard Melodies (Georgia, 2016), Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts and What Remains (Georgia, 2008), Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling through the Dark (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), which won a Library Journal Best Natural History Book of the Year, and Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination (Beacon Press, 2001), a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001. In 2015, she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in General Nonfiction.

Stephen Strom is both a research astronomer and fine-art photographer. His work, largely interpretations of landscapes, has been exhibited throughout the United States and is held in the collections of the Center for Creative Photography, University of Oklahoma Art Museum, Mead Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others. He has published nine books of photography, including, most recently, Death Valley: Painted Light, with poetry by Alison Hawthorne Deming and an essay by Rebecca A. Senf (George F. Thompson, 2016), Earth and Mars: A Reflection, with Bradford A. Smith (Arizona, 2015), Sand Mirrors, with Richard B. Clarke (Polytropos, 2012), Otera Mesa: Preserving America’s Wildest Grasslands, with Gregory McNamee and Stephen Capra (New Mexico, 2009), and Earth Forms, with Gregory McNamee (Dewi Lewis, 2009).


"Although photographed from the ground, Strom’s abstract artworks have many characteristics of aerial photography. Emmet Gowan and David Maisel value the disorienting qualities of aerial photography and use them to extract visual information from a broad field of vision and re-present it as a picture. Stephen Strom embraces the same abstracting effect, although often at much closer range. For Strom, the relationship between patterns and form writ large and then endlessly repeated within, is part of the joy of observation. This pursuit of abstract pattern has characterized Strom’s work from his earliest days."

- Rebecca A. Senf, Norton Family Curator of Photography at the Center for Creative Photography and Phoenix Art Museum.

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