3 Takes On a Dune

 

These three shots were all taken within the span of about a minute.  There isn’t much time to waste when shooting at sunrise.  The light changes very quickly so it’s important to have some idea beforehand  of what you are after in terms of composition and framing.  At the moment of sunrise, I was on the beach to grab a few shots of the sun coming through the clouds over the ocean. In television, we called them establishing shots.  I then moved back from the water’s edge to a position behind some sand fences for a couple of additional views then retreated behind this particular dune.  I had chosen it because it had a nice crop of sea oats growing on the top of it.  I used pretty much the same routine moving down the beach toward’s Land’s End.  Some views like the three shots above, required little movement at all, just a zoom with the 24-120 mm lens.  By the time I called it a morning about half hour later, I had more than 90 quality shots.   I love just roaming around with the camera and snapping away at whatever moves me, but aging is the mother of invention.  With arthritic knees, I have to think ahead of what I want and the quickest way to get it.  The luxury of walking several miles on the beach is a distant memory. As Clint Eastwood said in the classic western, “Unforgiven”,  “We all got it coming kid.”  Thanks for the look. Have a good 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. .

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.

Sand Artistry

It was a cloudless, no drama day with a high sky and bright sun,  but I figured I would drive to the oceanfront anyway,  thinking that perhaps I could grab some arty close ups of the wind’s artistry in the sand.  It had been windy on the coast most of the week since the last Nor’easter ; they come with seeming increased regularity now, and I hoped to find some interesting patterns along and behind the dunes.   I wasn’t disappointed.

I lingered after taking the shot with my eye focusing just below the clump of sea grass to the right.  It looked like some miniature Zen garden.

After processing the raw files back home, I uploaded the shot above to my web site and immediately sold two prints.  I also got an email asking if I had taken a larger view of the scene.  I had.  I uploaded that photograph  and it sold right away to one of the buyers of the closeup shot. She wanted to display both together. Lesson learned! Always hang on to the larger view of a cropped scene.  You never know.  Thanks for looking and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

Fragile As A Gardenia Boom

 

Generalizations are always iffy but I would venture a guess that most of us who venture out every day with our cameras in hopes of nailing that perfect shot have at least a sliver of  of environmental angst lurking in our souls.  And perhaps what draws us to the photographs we make is the fragility of the scene and how even the seemingly innocuous act of just walking along the top of a barrier dune can start to undo what has taken nature years to accomplish. 

I was out one morning before sunrise on the coast recently when a woman walking her dog struck up a conversation with me.  We talked about the endless beauty of what we were seeing. The conversation quickly circled to the now hot issue of drilling for oil off the Carolina beaches.  She asked  if that concerned me?  I thought a moment, admittedly considering whether I wanted to give up a few precious moments of the soon to be sunrise to wallow into conversational quicksand. I decided to answer her this way.   “I was in Santa Barbara, California  during the big oil spill decades ago and since that experience, every time I go into the voting booth, it is with but two issues on my mind: the environment and  my own economic interest.  If there is a conflict,” I said, “I always try to put the environment first,” which I added, “is all too often the collateral damage of human enterprise.”

“Nicely said,” she grinned and walked into the sunrise which was just coming up over the horizon.

Thanks for the visit and have a great week ahead.  See you next time.

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.