Back To The Beaches

I finally got back to the beach this past weekend. It was my first visit since January and my first use of a new lens, the 16-35mm Nikon f/4.  A few quick images just processed.

The 16-35mm is light years sharper than my old 18-35.  In fact, it ranks right up there with the 24-120mm f/4 as the sharpest lenses in my bag.  If you shop around, you can find a used version in like new condition far cheaper than the price for a new one. More shots next time. Thanks for looking and have a good week ahead.

Gales At The Beach

The day proved to be something of a paradox. It was a pretty winter day.  There was no rain, a few clouds, the sun was out and it really wasn’t that cold, but the wind was ferocious.  Gales approaching 35 miles an hour sent the wind chill plummeting, whipped up the usually tranquid waves along the Bogue Banks and created a minor sandstorm on the beach.  So you might ask, why on earth did I go.  Well, I have found over the years that the best time for photography on the coast is when there is something going on with the weather, in this case, the wind. There is nothing more boring to me than to be on a beach with a camera on a bright, sunny, cloudless day. The second reason is that I like the beach in the winter; the sheer isolation of it and the pale, neutral tones.  I suppose you could say, I got what I was looking for.

The wind picked up shortly after daybreak bringing  out two hearty kite flyers who turned their backs to the blowing sand and sent their kites sailing over the ocean.

Even they gave up after a while as the wind began kicking up clouds of sand and driving it up the beach.

Fortunately, I had brought along a thick windbreaker, goggles and a stocking hat.  The camera, a Nikon D750 is well sealed but I took no chances, wrapping it and the 24-120mm f/4 lens in a large zip bag with only the front of the lens with UV filter attached, exposed to the elements.  All in all, an interesting outing that netted some decent keeper shots, but I was worn out.  Just standing up to the battering wind was exhausting, let alone trying to walk against it.  Thank you for visiting and looking.  Comments are always welcome. Have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

Wondering the Dunes at Fort Macon State Park

Fort Macon State Park is the site of a meticulously restored fort of the American Civil War, a museum quality coastal education center and an unspoiled shoreline on the eastern tip of the Bogue Banks just off the North Carolina Coast.  The attraction for me is the vast shoreline. 

Just off the coast, one can see  manmade Radio Island, built from the seabed with sand dredged from the shipping channel to Morehead City.  It’s named for a radio station and antenna that operated on the island from 1940 until just after the turn of the century.  In the distance to the east  Shackleford Banks is visible.  It is home to a large herd of wild horses that date back centuries. It’s now closed to visitation.  Not visible but just beyond Shackleford Banks is the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which with the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and National Seashore to the North, comprise America’s longest park.  Thanks for the visit.  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

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 Challenge of Mid-day Photography At the Beach

I have a rule about photography at the beach.  I make it a point to be there either at dawn before the sun rises or in the late afternoon just before sunset  I seldom, if ever, drive to the oceanfront during the balance of the day, but, of course, there are exceptions.  One came this past weekend. My wife was going to a noontime reunion of her cousins at Pine Knoll Shores, one the small beach towns on the Bogue Banks.  “Want to ride along,” she asked.  “Sure,” I said, knowing full well that the worst time for photography at the beach is mid-day, but the beach is the beach and I was weary of taking pictures of cotton and tobacco rows.  It’s not a long ride to the ocean from our farm, 45 minuits or so and we arrived a few minutes after noon.  Of course, it was blazing hot and the glare from the sun directly overhead was retina frying.  So what to do.

This is my usual routine. First,  I make certain I’m shooting in the RAW format.  RAW is essentially a digital negative.  It records everything the camera sees. Jpegs are compressed images. RAW files are not.   Every DSLR has a RAW setting though the camera makers use different names for their version.  Nikon RAW files are called “NEF.”   The big disadvantage to shooting in RAW is that the files are huge, they eat up a lot of storage space.  To me, it’s worth it.  RAW allows me to change the White Balance and make other adjustments to the image in processing that are not possible with Jpeg.  To my mind, it is essential for photography at any time and particularly so for mid-day shooting.  Next, I dial the ISO down to the very lowest setting. For me that is 1.0.  Third,  I closed down the lens. to about f/22.  I  used center weight metering.  The histograms on each shot looked okay,  so I decided to leave well enough alone.


Had I not been pressed for time,  I probably would have taken a few additional shots of each scene using spot metering but doing so requires rechecking the exposure after every shot and I was in a hurry.  In order to preserve domestic tranquility, I needed to get back to the cottage to mingle before lunch time.  Anyway, not too shabby for shooting at high noon in high heat.

An aside.  I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to continue with this blog.  WordPress, the host site, notified me Monday morning that they had frozen my account because my password had been corrupted.  They sent me a password reset code to my hotmail site, but for some reason it did not show up. It took me two days to learn that microsoft’s hotmail email service, for some reason I cannot fathom,  sometimes blocks transactional emails  such as the  reset code for changing my password.   After figuring this out, WordPress then sent me a code which apparently bypassed Hotmail allowing me to directly reset my password.  As you might guess, I am in the process of changing the email service I have registered with Wordpres..   All’s well that ends well but at my age, I don’t have two days to waste!  Thanks for the look.  Comments are certainly welcome.  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.