Light on the Land takes you on a visual wander through The Sea Ranch, a remote and enchanting place along the Northern California coast once described as "paradise at the end of the world."

In the early 60s a developer acquired property from a sheep rancher, then assembled a team of architects to design The Sea Ranch, a planned community that would gain distinction for its environmental sensitivity. A tenet of the team’s design philosophy was to live “lightly on the land.”

Flash forward sixty years. On a hike at The Sea Ranch, I was stopped in my tracks by shafts of sunlight boring through a tangle of tree branches and forming pools of light on the ground. The next day, I returned to the same spot, at the same time, with camera in hand, and made the photograph Tree of Light, which appears in this portfolio. 

Thus began Light on the Land, a series of photographs I made while hiking the trails at The Sea Ranch. With light and shadow as my guides, I wandered through the hedgerows, down to the beaches, up on the bluffs, and into little-known places. Being city-bred, I have been accustomed to working in the built environment. But the more time I spent at The Sea Ranch, the more its natural beauty enthralled me. From sculptural rock formations chiseled by the elements to the soaring embrace of a redwood fairy ring, its wonders reconnected me to nature, providing both new subject and an antidote to the pandemic’s confinement.

Lawrence Halprin, the landscape architect who drew up The Sea Ranch master plan, wrote, “People are there . . . to relate to the wild and natural environment—its incredible rhythms and forms—the sound of the water, the great views up and down the coast. These should be preserved.” I am a grateful beneficiary of that foresight. Living lightly on the land, one might say, has made possible Light on the Land.