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.

A Partly Cloudy Day At The Beach

All shots  in Manual mode.; Nikon D740, 24-`120 f/4 lens, Manual modes, f/16, ISO 400.  Light reading from the sky away from the sun and exposure locked.  No filters.

Some camera news this week:  Nikon finally released their full frame mirrorless camera.  Two models: the Z7 which packs 47 MP, shoots nine frames a second and the Z6 which weighs in with 24 MP and shoots 12 frames a second.

Photo courtesy of Nikon USA.  The Z6 with its companionn 24-70 mm lens and an F mount adaptor rings up at 2,746 dollars.  The Z7 with the same package comes in at a hefty 4,176 dollars.  Both packages come with battery and charger.  The big box cameras stores like B and H Photo Video in New York are now taking pre-orders if you are so inclined.  Full specs on both cameras at Nikon USA.  Thanks for the visit and the look. Happy shooting. 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 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.