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.

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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.

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!

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.

 

The Last Weekend Before The Great Migration

It was my last chance to shoot some pictures on a vacant beach and my back had finally decided to cooperate, agreeing to get itself back in sync.  I was on the beach road by 4AM and on the point at Lands End within a hour.  My timing could not have been better.  The tidal flats were laid out in front of me as the dawn reached its zenith.  I got low, stretched out the screen on the D800E allowing me the live view you see above.  The fellow dawn watchers far up the beach were a bonus.  They gave the scene scale.

The forecast had been partly sunny meaning a few clouds and that is exactly how it was.  A perfect morning for shooting a sunrise scene.  I used my usual formula” Spot Metering taking the exposure reading away from the sun and locking the exposure, iso 400, manual exposure, and an aperture of f/16.  I took three shots.  This one utilized a # 6 graduated neutral density filter shade the glaring sun while leaving the ocean and beach in natural light.  I don’t use this filter much but it was the right choice for this situation.  Certainly worth having one in your bag.

In addition to the D800E, I was carrying my D750 fitted with a 70-300mm Nikkor lens.  If you have two DSLR’s, I suggest fitting one with the requisite wide angle and a telephoto on the second. You never know what will come up without warning like the council of shore birds further up the beach which decided to head south.   I grabbed the 750 and caught them in the southeast sky.  complimenting that marvelous pink cloud that looked like the famous Nike Swoosh (trademark).  In all that morning, I grabbed more than 140 keepers.  I’ll share more with you over the coming weeks and leave the beach to the refugees from the North who need more Vitamin D than I.  Have a great holiday weekend everybody.

Photo Of The Week: Beach Heat

blogged August 14, 2016

The texture of the sand on the backside of this dune caught my eye on the beach at Emerald Isle.  It is very hot here with the heat index hovering near 120.  The Atlantic Ocean is a sauna with water temperature nearing 85 degrees.  How on earth that can be refreshing is beyond me but there are plenty of takers.  Thanks for the look and have a good week ahead.