Peter Lik’s Wave

Peter Lik is an Australian photographer whose works primarily consist of panoramic images of nature. Lik travels around the world shooting iconic photos of natural landscapes ranging from desert canyons to cascading waterfalls, capturing the beauty of nature in its myriad diverse forms. Lik continues to be motivated by his desire to find the “perfect shot”—his favorite image, after all, has not yet been captured.

Despite this work’s status as a photograph, the vibrant colors of the water and the wave’s sculptural contortions make the image seem like a figment of a fantastical dream or like an imagined scene from some unknown, distant land. The mixed textures within the image liken the photo to a painting: an artist’s rendition of the world. Both reality and imagination highlight our understanding of the ocean and of nature as a whole. We are deeply integrated into the natural world, and yet it is simultaneously alien to us. We lack the ability to comprehend its sheer magnitude and magnificence, yet we continue to marvel at it, both mesmerized and terrified by its beauty.

The ocean may be beckoning to surfers with a friendly wave, or it might be molding its limitless mass to form a wide chasm, ready to devour all who dare to enter. The hard edges of the ripples in the water are juxtaposed with the soft, feather-light spray of its foamy peaks. This highlights the duality of the ocean itself. It is gentle when brushed softly and solid as steel when attempted to be breached – an intertwinement of joy and wrath. Whether this tide is a harmless call to frolic in the warm water or a siren’s song luring innocents to their doom, the viewer cannot resist being pulled in by the ocean’s invitation. Despite the danger lying below the surface, the ocean whispers to the viewer—calling, just brush against the breath of the foam, softly, softly—before engulfing him and plunging him deep below the depths, into an adventure contained within and yet completely independent from our reality.

How does this photograph make you feel?