A Walk Around The Point At Land’s End

The Bogue Banks and its neighbor, The Shackelford Banks, lie just south  of Cape Lookout  off  the North Carolina Coast.  Unlike the Outer Banks which runs from Corolla in the north through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Bogue and Shackelford Banks are pretty much positioned east west rather than north south.  This means the sun is overhead throughout the day from sunrise to sunset.  Here, the beaches are wider and they are growing.  The beach you see above which rounds the point was not here ten years ago.

The dunes along this section of beach have largely been built up due to the careful positioning of sand fences which dot the landscape.

The Bogue Sound and the town of Swansboro are  visible in the distance.  Beach erosion and the loss of sand and dunes due to nor’easters and hurricanes along the Outer Banks,  appears to have been to the benefit of Land’s End on the Bogue Banks.  Thanks for the look and have a great week ahead.

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Chasing the Spanish Macarel

I hooked up with these guys before dawn  “On The Point”  at Emerald Isle, North Carolina a week ago. Most live either on the Bogue Banks or nearby on the mainland. All buy  yearly permits from the City of Emerald Isle which allows them to drive on the beach in restricted areas from the late fall through early spring  on the Western end of the island.  Emerald Isle is situated  East/ West rather than North/ South. As the dawn broke around 6:40 AM, the beach was dotted with pickup trucks, their occupants ready to start casting for the  Spanish Mackerel and Albacore that were running in close to feed.

At daybreak, the fishermen were joined by some surfers, anxious to take advantage of the large breakers spawned by an overnight storm. Somehow, all managed to co-exist without getting in each other’s way.

I left them at sunrise to head up the beach to grab some sunrise shots. They were still at it when I came back on the way to my truck.  Their coolers were filled. So were my memory cards.  It had been a good day.  Thanks for the look-in and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

Do you make your own luck? Maybe!

My usual guide when planning a pre-dawn trek to the oceanfront is, of course, the weather.  If the forecast is for full sun, I stay home. Full sun at the beach does not make for dramatic photographs. If it’s for a partly cloudy day,  I go.  If it’s for a mostly cloudy day, I go.  BUT,  if the chance of rain is above 40 percent, I will usually stay home.  This particular morning,  I made an exception. The chance of rain was 50 percent with heavy rain in some cells.  I decided to go for it anyway.   I packed up my rain gear including two extra large size Zip Lock Freezer Bags to house my camera bodies in the highly likely event, I would run into rain on the beach.  Within ten minutes of leaving the farm heading east on the beach road, I ran into a mammoth frog strangler. Ten minutes later, I ran into another.  When I arrived 40 minutes after leaving the farm, it was still raining, albeit, lightly. I waited for daybreak, then left for the oceanfront.  When I got there, it was still sprinkling, but the sky and the light were cooperating and the sun was trying to blast through the clouds.

This view is to the East. (The beach on Emerald Isle is not oriented North-South but rather  East to West.)  The steps in the foreground were abandoned and left to the ocean  after last week’s Nor’ester. I thought they added a bit of additional drama to the scene.  When I looked West, toward Lands End, I got the sure sign that the rain was done, at least for the moment. .

It was the first rainbow I can ever recall capturing over the ocean in all my many years of coming here.  The truck on the beach belongs to one of the surf fishermen drawn by the Spanish Mackerel and Albacore that were running.  It was gone within five minutes. To the East, the Sun was coming up amid a glorious bank of clouds.

The roped off area is to keep those who have permits to drive on the beach off the barrier dunes.  So my gamble paid off.  What I wanted to get in the way of  photographs, I got.  But the window of opportunity closed quickly. Just as I was packing up my gear,  it started to rain again.  I read somewhere that you make you own luck.  Maybe! Suffice to say, I was lucky.  Thanks for the read and the look.  See you next time.

Seeing Them Again For The First Time

As happens from time to time, nasty weather sent me trolling through my rather substantial collection of rejects;  RAW Files which for one reason or another I had taken a look at but passed on processing.   Many were pitched into the digital circular file because of excessive haze; a frequent problem when shooting on the coast.  Like many of you I suppose, I employ UV and Haze filters when shooting at the beach but in many cases the scene is just overwhelmed by what I call heat haze.   Frequently, of course, haze is an important element in a composition but often, I want a look at the scene without it being shrouded in mist.  Then this past week, quite by accident, I came across the Photoshop Haze Removal tool.  Bingo. Problem solved.

I’m a frequenter of the “Enhance” category which includes Color Curves and Light and Shadow adjustment, but for some reason I cannot explain,  I never noticed the “Haze Removal” button.  I quickly went to work.

The original versions of these three photographs were almost completely blanketed by rather dense morning haze which gave something of a surreal atmosphere to the scenes, but I always wondered what they would look like sans the haze.  This is it.  If only I took the time to  familiarize myself with all   software can do before I start using it.  The story of my life.  At least its keeping my aging brain active on a rainy day.  Thanks for the look. See you next time.

Breaking an old Habit.

My usual practice in shooting landscapes, or perhaps in this case, “seascapes”, is to click a wide angle lens on the camera, framed it up and shoot.  I have several wide angles I lug around in my bag: a 24mm prime, a 18-35mm and a 24-120mm and a 12-20mm I use on my small sensor DSLR.  In Nikon-eese  DX.  I had decided to break out of that habit on this particular trek to the ocean and use my 70 to 300mm lens.  I was leery of this radical departure from my comfort zone,  but I swallowed my reticence and pushed ahead.  The above shot taken perhaps five minutes before actual sunrise was shot at 70mm.  It’s among my favorites from that morning.  Then I cranked the lens all the way out to 300mm and went trolling over the waves at periscope depth, and there it was: a small coastal trawler with its outriggers deployed getting an early start on the days catch.

A more powerful telephoto, a 400mm, or one of the new 150 to 600 zooms would no doubt have gotten me closer, but I like this view with the small trawler alone on the horizon.  I was right pleased with myself.  Proof perhaps that even an ancient shooter like me can learn to break out of old habits.  Thanks for the visit.  See you next time.

To Zoom or Not To Zoom

66mm

110mm

One of the best lenses I ever purchased remains the Nikon 24-120 constant  f/4.  I picked it up at B and H Photo Video in New York in an open box sale. The lens had been used as a shelf display model.    It pretty much lives on my Nikon D750 Camera.  I suppose you could say it is my walk around lens. Even so, it took me a while to take advantage of what it offers.    With landscapes, my practice was to frame up the wide shot, shoot it and move on.  Typical for old folks like me who are set in our ways.  This past weekend on the Bogue Banks of North Carolina I proved that even at 72, sometimes it pays to revisit old habits. The two shots above were taken a few seconds apart during  a rapidly changing sky after a storm.  The first was taken at 66mm, the second at 110mm. It really gave me two almost completely different shots. That in and off itself is probably not a tip.  If there is one, I suppose it is this, don’t be reticent to change up old habits, particularly in photography.    Thanks for the look and have a good week. See you next time.

Shooting a Panorama from a Moving Vehicle

I’ve always wanted to take a shot or two from the Carter Langston Bridge which connects Swansboro, North Carolina to Emerald Isle on the Bogue Banks in southeastern North Carolina but I seldom, if ever,  have anyone with me on the trip from the farm;  and driving across a long bridge that takes you some 200 feet in the air requires both hands on the wheel.  And did I mention, there is no stopping on the bridge. This weekend though, I had a driver.  My wife Jeri  was heading to a reunion with cousins on the island and of course, I agreed to tag along provided I could sneak out for an hour or so to take a few shots along the beach.  This is one of more than 30 shots I took with my Nikon D800E camera while we traveled across the bridge.   So how did I do it.

First it helps to have a tripod for shooting from a vehicle.  Many camera makers offer them as well as many of the tripod makers.  All have a special padded clamp that fits on the top of a vehicle window that is almost rolled all the way down.  Girls, you will have to sacrifice your hair- do. Mine is made by Nikon.  It has an adjustable head like the typical tripod.  You attach the camera plate to the bottom of your camera and simply lock it onto the window mounted tripod.  If I remember correctly, I paid about 30 bucks and change for it at B and H Photo Video in New York.  Monfrotto also makes a model but its pricey, almost 90 bucks. I’ve also seen them at outdoor outfitter shops.

I had my camera all set up before we drove onto the bridge.  I used shutter priority; set the shutter speed at 1/500th of a second,  metered the light while sitting at a stop light just before the bridge, using spot metering and locked the setting.  I also switched on the lens shake reduction -vibration control on Nikons.   Jeri slowed down to about 30 miles an hour when we got to the high point of the bridge and I snapped about three dozen shots using auto focus.   I’ve cropped this one quite heavily in order to remove the power lines that were in the middle of the shot.  I’ll go back and zap them in Post.

So another gizmo for your camera bag and unlike a lot of the stuff you see out there,  this one is worth the money.  Thanks for the visit. See you next time.