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.

The Unending Battle

Another Nor’ester has plowed up the Atlantic Seaboard and while North Carolina largely avoided scenes like that in the Boston suburbs of the ocean breaching seawalls and flooding homes and businesses,  all along the Atlantic coast, the storm claimed millions of cubic yards of sand.  A quick visit to the Bogue Banks of North Carolina quickly confirmed the beach erosion.

Further north, along the southern Outer Banks, North Carolina Highway 12 was again temporarily closed due to ocean overwash.   All along the coast, sand fences were erected to hang onto what was left.  

A shot of the vital dune line at Emerald Isle, North Carolina is a vivid reminder of what’s at stake.

Since 1979, the minimum oceanfront setback requirement for permanent structures in North Carolina is 30 times either the historical long-term erosion rate or two feet per year, whichever is larger. It’s measured from the seaward line of stable dune vegetation.   That’s why when you visit the beach, you’ll see signs posted every one hundred feet or so up and down the coast that read, “Stay Off The Dunes.”   Thanks for your visit. 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.

A Walk Around The Point At Land’s End

The Bogue Banks and its neighbor, The Shackelford Banks, lie just south  of Cape Lookout  off  the North Carolina Coast.  Unlike the Outer Banks which runs from Corolla in the north through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Bogue and Shackelford Banks are pretty much positioned east west rather than north south.  This means the sun is overhead throughout the day from sunrise to sunset.  Here, the beaches are wider and they are growing.  The beach you see above which rounds the point was not here ten years ago.

The dunes along this section of beach have largely been built up due to the careful positioning of sand fences which dot the landscape.

The Bogue Sound and the town of Swansboro are  visible in the distance.  Beach erosion and the loss of sand and dunes due to nor’easters and hurricanes along the Outer Banks,  appears to have been to the benefit of Land’s End on the Bogue Banks.  Thanks for the look and have a great week ahead.

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.