My sense is that all living things crave it, the solace of isolation. When I was working, it was often expressed as “Quality Quiet Time;” a chance to escape the spotlight of your own circumstance. Edward Hopper’s “Automat” conveys that message to me as does the scene above. There wasn’t another sea gull within sight when I came upon this guy, soaking up the warmth of the coming dawn, a calm, peaceful moment, alone with himself.
This lady above had given me a slight nod when she walked by with her dog, no doubt a daily ritual. When I framed the shot, my thoughts went to Hopper, Wyeth and Warhol. I grew up in a family of painters. I was told once that people who can’t paint go into photography. I couldn’t so i did. Even so, I think the rub-off has served me well. I was still roaming the beach, no doubt looking for my own solace, when she returned; her Lab glistening from a splash in the ocean. We struck up a conversation. She and her husband had just relocated from up north and were refurbishing a house a few blocks off the beach. It reinforced my belief that people who come to the beach, regardless of their station in life, all have the civility of a small town. I suppose the moral of the morning was, place no trust in appearances. Thanks for the look and have a good week. See you next time.
Dawn was rubbing against the windshield of my ancient RAV 4 as I negotiated a seldom used, overgrown path next to a corn field. A very angry thunderstorm had slowly snailed across the area overnight dumping biblical amounts of rain. I had stopped just short of an almost washed out causeway over a drainage ditch that had not drained. I decided not to chance it. Getting old slowly robs you of your confidence. I grabbed my cameras and legged it the rest of the way. I was sure that just around the corner of the treeline on the left was the goose that laid the golden egg, or, in this case, a golden sunrise amidst a cloudy sky over a large tobacco field. I was not disappointed.
I’ve always dreamed about living within driving distance of Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons, but one plays the cards they are dealt. My hand, such as it is, “ain’t” too bad. The picturesque North Carolina Coast is nearby, but on this particular day, tobacco fields were on the to-do list. I’ve had good luck licensing shots to various tobacco foundations and branding firms over the years, the great majority of which are overseas. Smoking, I suppose, is still very much in vogue there. Mind you, I’m no great fan of tobacco. One of the hardest things I ever did was kick the smoking addiction. My wife grew up on a small tobacco farm and says you would be hard pressed to find a more miserable way to earn a living. Having said that, I submit that tobacco has a certain artistic quality to it. The huge green leaves which slowly morph to a golden brown as the plant ripens along with the pink flowers make for a very pleasing scene.
I donned a long sleeved shirt before venturing down the row. Skin coming in contact with tobacco, particularly when it is wet after rain, is a must to avoid. My wife has many stories about nicotine poisoning when she was a young girl. Those memories led us to get out of the tobacco growing business more than a decade ago when I retired from broadcast news. Our crop this year will be cotton; to my mind, one of the more picturesque of farm crops. There is just something about a field covered in white at sunrise. Stay tuned.
I apologize for being AWOL last week. I suffer from Pudendal Neuralgia. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say, there are good days and bad days. Last weekend was not good. As I’ve learned in my old age, learn to enjoy your struggles. As always, thanks for the look and have a good week ahead. See you next time.
Photography is very much an individual piece of business. For many of us who are drawn to it, we each mine our own little niche. For me it is the beach in the off season. The solace of isolation it offers brings me peace that no other place does. When I plan a visit, fortunately a rather short drive for me. I feel the vertigo of anticipation even though I have visited thousands of times over my 72 years.
There are usually a few fellow travelers out and about when I am, all no doubt lured by the perfume of the slightly salty air that shows all who visit the same affection but who, I suspect, are primarily charmed by the solace that allows us to get reacquainted with ourselves. The constant rhythm of the ocean, the soft rush of the wind and, of course, the constantly changing dance of the sky, all combine to reawaken one’s spirits. As we age, I think we tend to start piling more and more of life into a box of sameness. Our senses dull and more of the world becomes mundane, ordinary. It’s a very slippery slope and one which photography helps me avoid. See you next time.
It was my last chance to shoot some pictures on a vacant beach and my back had finally decided to cooperate, agreeing to get itself back in sync. I was on the beach road by 4AM and on the point at Lands End within a hour. My timing could not have been better. The tidal flats were laid out in front of me as the dawn reached its zenith. I got low, stretched out the screen on the D800E allowing me the live view you see above. The fellow dawn watchers far up the beach were a bonus. They gave the scene scale.
The forecast had been partly sunny meaning a few clouds and that is exactly how it was. A perfect morning for shooting a sunrise scene. I used my usual formula” Spot Metering taking the exposure reading away from the sun and locking the exposure, iso 400, manual exposure, and an aperture of f/16. I took three shots. This one utilized a # 6 graduated neutral density filter shade the glaring sun while leaving the ocean and beach in natural light. I don’t use this filter much but it was the right choice for this situation. Certainly worth having one in your bag.
In addition to the D800E, I was carrying my D750 fitted with a 70-300mm Nikkor lens. If you have two DSLR’s, I suggest fitting one with the requisite wide angle and a telephoto on the second. You never know what will come up without warning like the council of shore birds further up the beach which decided to head south. I grabbed the 750 and caught them in the southeast sky. complimenting that marvelous pink cloud that looked like the famous Nike Swoosh (trademark). In all that morning, I grabbed more than 140 keepers. I’ll share more with you over the coming weeks and leave the beach to the refugees from the North who need more Vitamin D than I. Have a great holiday weekend everybody.
A few moments after Sunrise and the Eastern sky has a distinct South West Flavor to it but just over 8 hours later, a view to the North has a totally different color pallet. Even the sour grass which appears red in the foreground shadows above looks totally different by mid afternoon. I suppose the moral of the story is, don’t forget to go back and take another look.
Both shots taken with a Nikon D800e and a 18-35mm lens. Thanks for the look and have a good week ahead. See you next time.
A couple of pre-sunrise shots taken at Southern Shores, North Carolina. I didn’t have far to walk to the beach so when I saw the cloudy sky, I grabbed my bag and headed out. These scenes come early so if you have trouble getting out of bed, you will miss them. Be there and you’ll be rewarded with some fabulous sky colors. These two shots were taken on the same morning. A complete makeover that occurred within just a few minutes before sunrise. Both shots were handheld. The second a tad longer exposure. Both shot with a Nikon D800e camera and an 18-35 Nikkor lens. If you’re heading for a beach this spring or summer, take along an alarm clock. It’s worth the agony of getting up early. Have a good week. See you next time.
The Queen Street United Methodist Church dominates what there is of a skyline in the small city of Kinston. Beautifully maintained, the church has been the focal point of countless photographs of the downtown area. This shot captures the Church’s Bell Tower as well as the rich brick texture of one of the ancient warehouses nearby.
The side wall of another of the old warehouses that have been or are in the process of being re-purposed as shops, galleries, upscale loft apartments, etc by the hipster entrepreneur-developers who are giving the city new life. The huge mural of the Great Blue Heron is testament to Kinston’s artistic renaissance.
These cast cement facades of tobacco barns are a salute to tobacco which drove the area economy for more than a century. Tobacco is still an important crop in Eastern North Carolina but not to the degree that it was. Next time, back to the coast. Thanks for the look and have a good week ahead. All shots taken with a Nikon D750 Camera and a 24-120 f/4 lens.