In Search of a Great Blue

With the coast clear of hurricanes for the first time in a month, I finally got started roaming the backwaters of the Neuse River this weekend.  The Neuse is one of the three major rivers in Eastern North Carolina and it was first on my list, ahead of the Trent and The Cape Fear.  I’d been wanting to do it for quite a while but  between Florence and Michael, my little trek fell by the wayside to tend to more pressing things.  This weekend, with the Neuse finally back within its banks. I finally got started.  No sooner had I parked my RAV 4 alongside one of the ponds fed by the Neuse in nearby Kinston than a Great Blue zoomed overhead heading out over the water.  About ten minutes later, I thought I caught a glimpse of him perched on a tree stump on the far side of the pond.

Look closely at the “Y” shaped tree stump standing in the water just to the left of the trees in the foreground. (Click on the photo for a larger look.)  I took a look through my 24-120mm lens and sure enough, there he was, still as a stature, but I needed a longer lens.

I had left my 70-300mm back in my RAV 4 which was parked maybe 50 yards away.  Could I get back to the vehicle, grab the lens and get a closeup of him before he left.  I did. Perhaps he caught a glimpse of me lumbering back down the path and decided to humor me.   (I don’t run any more.  I lumber, which is sort of a cross between a limp and a slow trot.)  I was so out of breath by the time I got back, I had to use a tree along the shore to steady my camera.  I fired off maybe ten shots before he finally swooped away to the far end of the pond.  Later, I found him back in the same position but facing the other direction.    I was lucky. I usually take two cameras with me on shoots like this.  One with a short telephoto and the other fitted with a longer lens.  I’ll remember that next time.  And I’ll also remember to take along a tripod.   There is a limited amount of “lumbering” I can do these days.  Thanks for visiting and have a good week ahead. See you next time.

After Florence: Emerald Isle, NC

The heavily overcast sky, thick fog and light mist seemed appropriate for my first look at the oceanfront in the town of Emerald, Isle on the western end of the Bogue Banks of North Carolina. The first view I saw after reaching the beachfront was this  huge debris field  that was left in the wake of the storm surge from Hurricane Florence that breached  and virtually wiped out the barrier dunes.

The pile of wood you can see on the beach in the distance is what’s left of the walkways that bridged the dunes and connected the oceanfront homes to the beach.  These debris piles dot the beach every 50-75 yards for miles.


This view is telling.  To the far right of the picture you can see the remains of a beach walkway and a stairway.  Those stairs connected to a higher level of the walkway that bridged the giant barrier dune along the beachfront. It will give you an idea of how much of the dune line was destroyed.

To my untrained eye, most of the beach front homes look to have survived the storm surge pretty much intact, though I have no clue as to water damage to the interiors and exteriors.

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The western end of the Bogue Banks (the island is situated pretty much East West) seems to have borne the brunt of Hurricane Florence.  This would make sense since Florence made landfall just south of here, near Wilmington, NC.  The cleanup is well underway and soon, the beaches will be cleared.  More lasting will be the destruction of much of the barrier dune line.  I suspect the local authorities will move to rebuild the dune line, but for the forseeable future, oceanfront homes here are wide open to the whims of the Atlantic Ocean. Thank you for visiting and have a good week ahead.  See you next time

The Sasanqua’s return

I suppose they just knew to wait until Hurricane Florence did its worst before deciding to come on stage.  Sasanquas are delicate blooms and it doesn’t take much wind at all to tear them off the bush. .

.  Sasanquas are in the same family as Camellias but are not as tightly constructed as their cousins.  Each bloom is just a little different and for my money, they catch the light better.

I shot these with my usual setup for flower photography: a Nikon D700 camera and a 6omm Nikon Micro lens.  “Micro” is Nikon speak for Macro.  The D700 is a 12 mp camera but it more than holds its own in flower photography.  My view is that those 12mp spread across the full frame catches the light better.

Sasanquas don’t bloom long only into mid-October.  Camellias have a much longer stay, first blooming in mid to late November and continuing right on up to March.  After the devastation of Florence, the Sasanquas were a welcome sign that life does indeed go on.  Thanks for the visit and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

After Florence

We wound up on the left side of Hurricane Florence as it moved into Eastern North Carolina.  Better than a direct hit which was in the cards for a while, but not a good place to be in a Hurricane. Still, we were blessed.  Had the storm made landfall at 140 miles an hour, I can’t imagine the damage it would have done to the farm.  As it was, we were blessed.  Winds never topped 60 miles an hour.  The rain though was biblical. We figure over the course of the storm, we got upwards of 25 inches of it.  At the height of the storm, it was coming down at the rate of 2 inches an hour.  The ditches and canals did what they’re supposed to do and there was no flooding of houses here on the farm compound, but the cotton crop took a big hit.  Yield will be way down.

These shots were taken the day before Florence came ashore.  If a photograph can predict what’s coming, perhaps these did.

If the string of sunny days since Florence holds, I’ll finish clearing up all the debris from the storm this coming week.  I have no idea when I might be able to get down to the beaches though.  The major rivers in Eastern North Carolina; the Cape Fear, Neuse, Trent, and Lumber, are all out of their banks now and any roads and highways that weren’t washed out are cut by floodwater.  Only property owners are being allowed on the Bogue Banks which took a major hit from Florence.  I have a lot of friends down there and I feel for their loss.  Thanks for the visit.  See you next time.

Blooming Cotton

Late summer brings the  blooming cycle of cotton, the first stage of the maturing of the cotton plant.  The first blooms are pink which then quickly turn to white, then yellow.  Cotton is probably my most fun  crop to shoot and this year’s crop is no exception.

These shots among other views are earmarked for Getty Images.  In the past my cotton shots have done well with marketing and branding firms and cotton promotional firms.

The yellow flowers will soon turn bright red then drop off to allow the bolls to ripen.  When they mature, the bolls will crack open revealing the cotton.  Of course, this cycle always comes during peak hurricane season and right on cue, Hurricane “Florence” is churning its way toward the coast.  Cotton is pretty sturdy though so perhaps  this crop will weather the onslaught.  We’ll know next week this time.  If you’re on the Southeast US Coast, stay safe.  See you next time.

A Visit To The Flower Cooler

It usually happens every year about this time.  The last of the summer flowers, the sunflowers, have had their days in the sun and  the summer heat has cooked the clouds into oblivion, leaving blown out scenes on the coast and here on the farm. It’s the dog days of August.  Bright, vibrant color takes a vacation and my enthusiasm for photograpy begins to sag.  Then I remember the flower cooler, that cool oasis for color where all the flowers we can’t grow because of the intense heat are imported and stored to await the arrangers..

I’ve never cared for photographing arranged flowers.  I much prefer shooting bunches of them in buckets like these long stem roses above.

The light level in the flower cooler is, as you might guess, quite low and since I don’t like using flash, I had to dial up the ISO and close down the lens.  A tripod was mandatory.

After I fired off maybe a dozen or so shots, I decided to just have a seat in the flower cooler and chill out a bit but for the first time in several days, I was anxious to get home and process my work.  Nothing like a little color to wake up your eyes and your enthusiasm.  Thanks for visiting and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.