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.

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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.

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.

Down East Sunrise

This sunrise shot on the beach along the Southern Bogue Banks of North Carolina is without question the best I have taken here since I first started coming down here ten years ago. Suffice to say, it was a keeper and I went to my usual lengths to make sure I held on to it.

If you’ve ever had a memory card get corrupted, and I have, you quickly learn not to take chances.  I learned a long time ago to always format memory cards in the camera I’m going to use.  It’s probably overkill, but I even go  a bit further.  I dedicate memory cards to specific cameras even though all are Nikons.  One set lives with the D750, another set with the D800e,  and a third with the D7100.  If you shoot with more than one brand of camera, and these days it’s not unusual to see a Sony or a Fujifilm in the same bag, do yourself a favor and always reformat the card for the specific camera you are going to use. There is no bigger bummer than to spend an entire day shooting and wind up with a corrupted card and nothing to show for the effort.

Thanks for the visit.  See you next time!

A Rant About Ready-made Frame Sizes

Looking to frame your digital photograph.

…….Don’t bother with all those ready-made frames you see in all the stores.  They won’t work for you unless you first crop your picture!  Read on.

 

It’s been 42 years since an Eastman Kodak Engineer named Steve Sasson invented the first digital camera;  and 18 years since Nikon came out with the first DSLR body designed from scratch by a single manufacturer: the 2.7 megapixel D1. Now digital cameras are everywhere from phones to drones,  yet for some reason the people who make all those frames you see at the big drugstores, craft stores, big box stores, etc…have never adopted digital photograph frame sizes.  They still base all of their frames on photograph sizes from the film era; 8 X10 or 11X14. Even a lot of the digital photo organizer software out there still offer only the standard analog photo print sizes that were set way back in the days of the Kodak Instamatic.  It forces you to  crop every digital photo you print so it will fit into those outdated,  ready-made frames you find on the store shelves. You’ll have to go online to find photo labs that will print digital sized photographs. Be sure to search for  “digital sizes” because they also print the old film sizes.

Once you do that, you’ll have, for example, a 12 X 16 print instead of a cropped 11 X 14 but you’ll have to have it custom framed or frame it yourself because the ready-made frames won’t fit. You’d think, after 18 years of commercial digital photography, the ready-made frame business would have caught on.  You’d think!

Thanks for the read, and look. See you next time. Oh, and have a great Holiday Weekend.

The Solace Of Isolation

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.