Shooting Amaryllis

“Of all the flowering bulbs,” I read online, “the easiest to bring to bloom” is the Amaryllis.  So why in the world was  it so difficult for me to get a decent shot of one.  We’ve grown them seemingly forever here and I’ve always had difficulty coming up with a shot that really catches the eye to the point of perhaps enticing someone to buy one.  It sounds like a “no- brainer”!  An Amaryllis in full bloom is a sight to behold.  Gorgeous flowers, they  really bring a room or a garden to life.  But for some reason, I’ve never been satisfied with my photographs of them.   I’ve done close-ups and macros; I’ve gotten on my back and shot them from underneath; I’ve gotten behind them, over them, by the side of one.  I’ve shot them from every conceivable angle; in morning light, late afternoon light and once even at midday.  Desperate people do desperate things!  Then one of the “Arrangers” here said in passing to me,  “why not shoot a close mass of them, all  growing at different angles from one another but none facing directly into the camera. ”  This was my first attempt.

Of course, the leaf just left of center is a huge distraction but I was close.  I decided to move in tighter and search for a similar view without any leaves nosing into the frame.  I wound up moving around the entire bed but eventually I got what I thought would work.

Even the “Arrangers” who are very prickly about putting flowers “in their proper perspective” approved of this one.   “Worthy of your web site, John, ” said one, adding “perhaps  someone might be moved to buy a print of it.”   Perhaps! Thanks for the look and have a great week ahead. See you next time.

The Cloud

The sky was like a character in Joseph Heller’s classic novel “Catch 22”.  It seemed to know the difference between the makings of a pretty day and one that was just plain ugly but was trapped in the middle.  A front had floated across the coast during the night and at daybreak, things looked very iffy.   

As I trudged westward along the dune line  (a reminder that the Bogue Banks is pretty much situated East-West) the sky began to brighten and it became rather obvious that the clouds were all merging into one huge, magnificent cloud that was teasing the rooftops of the oceanfront “cottages.”

A platoon of pickup trucks with over-sized tires and front bumpers fitted with cylinders loaded with huge salt water fishing rigs, came roaring up the beach; a half dozen anglers jumped out and staked their claim on the beach by pounding their rod holders into the sand.

The big cloud began to darken to an ominous shade of indigo and I felt the first sprinkles of rain. I grabbed one of the giant sized  freezer bags out of my bag and zipped up my camera and lens and headed back to my truck.  By the time I was back on the beach road home, the downpour came.  The day had indeed turned ugly.  Thanks for the look.  See you next time. .

Springtime Blues

The hydrangeas are staging their annual color show.  They run through their color parade quickly;  from a pale to brilliant yellow then to a soft blue ripening to a deep blue.

The color of hydrangeas is determined by the soil.  The more acidic the soil is, the more blue they will become.  This particular hydrangea bed lives under a tribe of tall Lob Lolly Pines which makes for acid soil.

I use spot metering for most of my flower shots, taking the light reading from the flower itself.  It puts the bloom in the spotlight darkening the background.

It takes several days, depending on the light, for the blooms to go all blue and another day or so to reach their prime color which is of couse Deep Blue.  Nikon D700 Camera with a 70-200mm f/4 lens set at 200mm. Thanks for the visit and have a good week ahead.  See you next time. .

Beaufort, North Carolina

This is Front Street, the main drag in Beaufort  (pronounced BOW-fort – Bow as in Bow Tie), North Carolina.  Established in 1709, It is North Carolina’s third oldest town.  Today, its a popular stop on the Intracoastal Waterway and a jump off point for visits to the “inner banks,” the barrier  islands which make up the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve.  My visit centered on the docks and marina along Front Street.

A haven for yachts of every size and description, dock space is always at a premium here. Many of the large privately owned yachts are operated by professional crews.  Above is the “Desert First,” home ported in Winter Harbor Maine.  Further down the dock, are the tall masts of the Brigantine “Fritha,” the sail training vessel of the Massachusetts Maritime Institute, which was the principal reason for my trip.

Named for the heroine in Paul Gallico’s book, “The Snow Goose,” “Fritha” is split rigged as a Brigantine.  The Foremast is fully square rigged while the Mizzen carries a square sail at the top of the mast and a spanker sail  below. 74 Feet long overall with a beam of 15 feet, “Fritha” was built in 1986 in New Zealand using traditional methods.  Impeccably maintained, I could not find one blemish anywhere.  A view of the intricate rigging and spotless deck features next time.  Thanks for the visit and have a good week ahead. See You next time.

 

Shooting in the Fog

The forecast was good, partly sunny with only a very slight chance of rain.  It wasn’t to be.  The wisps of fog began showing up on the highway when I was about 25 miles from home.  When I got to the tiny town of Maysville a short time later, the fog was getting serious.  I thought about turning back, but  overhead, I could see the first quarter moon moving in and out of the clouds.  Besides, I figured, while I had ventured out on many a foggy morning back on the farm and gotten some decent shots, I could not remember shooting in the fog while on the beach. Suffice to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

At first light, I saw the first quarter moon and I started to think that maybe, the fog would clear off revealing a decent day, but less than 5 minutes later, the fog had gobbled up the moon. Below, was the scene at sunrise.

Any hope of a glorious sunrise on the beach was dashed.  I decided to see what i could do with some shots of the barrier dunes and that’s when I discovered I wasn’t alone on the beach.

I rather liked the shot and immediately thought of a title, “Solitary Refinement.”  As the morning wore on, the sky began to brighten and I worked on a few artistic views of the dune grass.  This was my favorite of the morning:

The light was coming on fast and by 9:30 the shadows were begging to wane. I decided to  head to Beaufort 16 miles up the coast to grab some shots along the Front Street Docks.  By the time I arrived, it was a gorgeous day.  I’ll post some of those views next time. See you then. Have a great weekend and a good week ahead.

The “Willet”

If you frequent the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, you’ve probably seen this large, sandpiper-like shore bird patrolling the surf line but paid no attention because of his rather drab markings.  Until, that is,  you see him in flight and hear his piercing call.  A bold white and black stripe that runs the length of both wings is a definite eye catcher. So is his call: “pill-will-Willet” he screams while flying up and down the beac

Willets were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because of their size and juicy taste.  They’ve made a huge comeback and now,  it’s almost impossible to visit the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, including the Gulf Coast, and not see them.  Seen above in his mottled brown breeding plumage, they’re a regular sight on the beach foraging for tiny Sand Crabs.

They can be very entertaining to watch as they drill their long beaks into the sand when they see the tell tale bubble of a Sand Crab burrowing in the sand.  The one seen below along the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Duck, seemed to be spending more time dodging the incoming breakers and globs of sea foam than looking for a snack.

The foam, by the way, is churned up by agitated sea water particularly when it contains dissolved organic elements like protein from offshore algae.

I’m posting early this week because I’ll be away over the weekend to, where else, the Atlantic Coast. Thanks for the visit. Have a good week ahead. See you next time.

Does “Goat’s Foot” have anything to do with it?

I think it was Bob Dylan who said “If I had known how long I was going to be around, I’d have taken better care of myself.”  Amen to that! If you’re going to roam around with cameras and camera bags around your neck, it sorta helps if you are in shape.  And at 73, I’m quickly finding out I am not.  Arthritis is loudly proclaiming itself to be in control  to the point of preventing me from straightening my right leg.  I’d been hobbling around popping ibuprofen tablets for a month or so when I finally decided it would be a good idea to finally find out if something was structurally wrong or if it was just arthritis.  A raft of X-rays confirmed arthritis to be in control of my knee joint.  A shot of cortisone got me back in the game. “Might fix it or it might not,” my doctor said, “But for now, you’re good to go.”  I’ll take what I can get.

I’d been wanting to get out into the field to grab a few shots of the sunrise now that the annual invasion of wild, reddish sour grass has taken over the fields.  It provides a smidgen of foreground interest in what would otherwise be a pretty empty scene. 

Nikon D750 Camera. Nikkor 24-120mm lens set at 24mm.

Somebody told me that the red grass is a variety of Bermuda Sorrel which supposedly is edible. An acid provides the sour taste.  Perhaps that’s why goats like to graze on it which tagged the grass with the name,  “Goat’s Foot.”   Not too appetizing, huh.  But given my state of mobility, I wondered if old goats develop arthritic knees.  And if not, does grazing on sour grass have something to do with it?   I’ll take my chances with the cortisone.  Thanks for the look and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.