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.

Vanity or ?

I did a photography book. A very expensive photography book.

Its a hardback with a glossy dust jacket as above.  And it’s big:  13 x 11 inches and 102 pages. Well, just 51 individual pages, but the outfit I used to put it together, Blurb.com, counts the reverse side of a page as a separate page. Cost? $130.00, which includes a 15 dollar profit for yours truly.  (Never, ever, ever, give your work away for nothing!)  The cost of the high grade premium weight paper alone took my breath away.  I paid far less for my one and only copy thanks to a 35 percent discount. Blurb constantly doles out discounts to get you into the fold as a book author. Buyers of the book get no discount, and the price does not include shipping.  Standard shipping is pretty cheap and it’s also snail- like. It’s very, very, very slow.

I spent weeks working on it.  The software at Blurb has a pretty quick learning curve.  If you are computer minded you can grasp it rather quickly. Most of my time was spent sorting through the zillions of photographs I have taken over the decades: film – slides and prints, and digital. Anything uploaded has to be 300 dpi if you care anything about the quality of the photograph on the printed page.  A number of elderly slides didn’t make the cut, nor did some of the very early digital shots done on small sensor  cameras. Getting my pile down to 500 pictures was painful.  Getting it down to 105 (some pages in the book feature more than one photograph) was pure torture.  But if 30+ years in journalism (broadcast news-mostly radio) taught me anything, its that whatever you do will be better the second and third time around.

So, why do it, particularly at that price? Well, you don’t have to do a book that large. Smaller is cheaper, but to me, if you are going to do a book of mostly landscape photography, do a big book and big books are enormously expensive.  But, again,  why do it?  I’m well into my 70’s now and the thought of all those thousands of photographs living on internet servers and external drives etc, just going away when the eternal snooze kicks in bothered me. Those of us who worked in broadcast news hate to admit it, but the cold truth is, seeing your work in print gives it a degree of permanence. Digital photography is the same. There’s just something about a matted and framed photograph hanging on the wall and one on your computer monitor.  One thing is for sure,  I didn’t do it for the money.  The number of books I have sold can be counted on two hands and the majority of those are longtime supporters.  So, in the final analysis, I guess its a vanity thing.

For a preview of the book online, click on this link:  http://www.blurb.com/b/8685495-down-east-north-carolina-rural-and-coastal-photogr


Thanks for the look and have a good week ahead. See you next time.


A Rush to Bloom

It seemed far too quick. Everything just decided to bloom at once.  It was as though the stage manager for the big spring show just packed up and walked off the job.  Perhaps all the spring bloomers went into a panic after three hard freezes in almost as many days iced the camellia blooms. Whatever, the daffodils, wild dogwoods, pink and red azaleas all decided to come on stage at once, quickly followed it seems, by the white azaleas, rhododendrons and pink dogwoods. Now everything has peaked, the blooms are dropping, and the temperatures are zooming up to near summer territory. The humidity will soon ramp up and before we know it, the high heat of summer will be back.

I know, everything has its time.   Its just that this time around, all the plants got the same wake up call. It was so quick I missed the crab apple blooms. I didn’t even realize it until one of my flickr buddies in Raleigh posted some on his site.  I ran over to the crab apple here on the farm and there were all the blooms on the ground.  I was too late.

But not too late to grab the Rhododendrons which are even now nearing their pink.

I got lucky with the pink dogwoods. They were all in full bloom when I got out to take a look.  It isn’t often that I’ve seen the pinks blooming at the same time as the wild white dogwoods but in this topsy-turvey spring, there they were.

Experience has taught me that photographs of flowers and blooms are a dime a dozen,  and I dare say most people are more turned on to landscapes.  The visitors to my flickr site confirm that. I just love color and something in me demands I give the blooms and flowers their due. I just wish they would space out the big show a bit and stay on stage a little longer. .

An aside about flickr.  The week brought news that the photo sharing site is under new ownership: Smug Mug!  I never thought Yahoo knew exactly what to do with flickr.  They weren’t photo people. Smug Mug is. Perhaps better times are coming.  Thanks for the read and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.