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.

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.

The “Willet”

If you frequent the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, you’ve probably seen this large, sandpiper-like shore bird patrolling the surf line but paid no attention because of his rather drab markings.  Until, that is,  you see him in flight and hear his piercing call.  A bold white and black stripe that runs the length of both wings is a definite eye catcher. So is his call: “pill-will-Willet” he screams while flying up and down the beac

Willets were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because of their size and juicy taste.  They’ve made a huge comeback and now,  it’s almost impossible to visit the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, including the Gulf Coast, and not see them.  Seen above in his mottled brown breeding plumage, they’re a regular sight on the beach foraging for tiny Sand Crabs.

They can be very entertaining to watch as they drill their long beaks into the sand when they see the tell tale bubble of a Sand Crab burrowing in the sand.  The one seen below along the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Duck, seemed to be spending more time dodging the incoming breakers and globs of sea foam than looking for a snack.

The foam, by the way, is churned up by agitated sea water particularly when it contains dissolved organic elements like protein from offshore algae.

I’m posting early this week because I’ll be away over the weekend to, where else, the Atlantic Coast. Thanks for the visit. Have a good week ahead. See you next time.

Light and Shadow at the Beach

The morning was perfect for a sunrise.  There was just enough clouds in the predawn sky to make things interesting.

Everything changed within a hour. The clouds departed, leaving only the blinding sun and a very bright blue sky.  Even the wind calmed down, turning the Atlantic into a placid lake.  It made for a pretty dull beach photography-wise.  I decided to head west on the island (the Bogue Banks is situated pretty much east/west so the sun is over the island throughout the day.)  It was a long trek but worth it.

Blog 4/45/18

This shot on the point at Land’s End catches the sun behind the beach houses which face the west and where the Atlantic and the Bogue sound meet.  A rather dark and dramatic scene with everything thrown into silhouette.

As the sun rose over Land’s End, I grabbed a few more pleasing shots of the sand fences and dunes before the light completely washed out and sent me packing. Thanks for looking in. Have a good week ahead. 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.