Quiet Shadows; Subtle Abstraction; Finding pleasure in the Ordinary

Photography is very much an individual piece of business.   For many of us who are drawn to it,  we each mine our own little niche. For me it is the beach in the off season. The solace of isolation it offers brings me peace that no other place does.  When I plan a visit, fortunately a rather short drive for me.  I feel the vertigo of anticipation even though I have visited thousands of times over my 72 years.

There are usually a few fellow travelers out and about  when I am, all no doubt lured by the perfume of the slightly salty air that shows all who visit the same affection but who, I suspect, are primarily charmed by the solace  that allows us to get reacquainted with ourselves.  The constant rhythm of the ocean, the soft rush of the wind and, of course, the constantly changing dance of the sky,  all combine to reawaken one’s spirits.  As we age, I think we tend to start piling more and more of life into a box of sameness.  Our senses dull and more of the world becomes mundane, ordinary.  It’s a very slippery slope and one which photography helps me avoid.  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.

An Atlantic Dawn

Atlantic Dawn I

 

Atlantic Dawn II

A couple of pre-sunrise shots taken at Southern Shores, North Carolina.  I didn’t have far to walk to the beach so when I saw the cloudy sky, I grabbed my bag and headed out.   These scenes come early so if you have trouble getting out of bed, you will miss them.   Be there and you’ll be rewarded with some fabulous sky colors.  These two shots were taken on the same morning.  A complete makeover that occurred within just a few minutes before sunrise.  Both shots were handheld. The second a tad longer exposure.  Both shot with a Nikon D800e camera and an 18-35 Nikkor lens.  If you’re heading for a beach this spring or summer, take along an alarm clock.  It’s worth the agony of getting up early.  Have a good week.  See you next time.

Reprocessing old RAW Files

I wrenched my lower back this past week.  I wasn’t trying to lift a car or anything, just bending over in a chair to tie my shoe.  I was greeted with the awful muted pop!  I knew what happened as soon as I felt it.  I’ve had the problem with my lower back for a long time.  I won’t bore you with all the whys etc.  It all  comes down to sitting….. too long!  Sitting too long at the computer processing photographs and writing….another book.   Any orthopedist will tell you, sitting is never good for the back. Ever!

I had to stop sitting so much.  It required some lifestyle changes.  I got my old oak, adjustable drafting table out of the barn here on the farm and refinished it.  It now serves as my desk.  And,  I bought one of those standing pads and a good  pair of walking shoes with a large “toe box.”  Mine are New Balance 877’s. They are working wonders for me.  ( I am not paid by New Balance to endorse their shoes.)   I wear a back brace often during the day and I am doing lower lumbar exercises every morning and afternoon and my wife and I bought a new firm mattress.  I have good days and bad days but overall, I get the idea things are improving.

I know this is a photography blog.  Stay with me.  I’m getting to it.

So what to do when you can’t go roaming for that perfect shot?  You work on old files.  Since I converted to digital photography in 2009, I have shot everything in RAW.  Nikon’s version of that is called NEF. Raw is, for lack of a better term, a digital negative.  It captures everything the camera sees.  It does not condense or compress any of the data.  The downside is, shooting and keeping raw files requires an enormous amount of space.  These files are BIG.  I have five external drives devoted to storing these things as well as on line storage in the so-called cloud.  These files require processing or conversion before posting or printing.  It’s sort of like developing  film in the old days.  I use the conversion program in Photoshop Elements.

Going back and reworking old gems allowed me to take advantage of software tools that either were not around or I did not know about about at the time of the original conversion.  This past week, I’ve been reprocessing shots are from the summer of 2011 taken on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, one of my favorite places for photography.

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Sea Oates at Duck Posted to Flickr August 9, 2014  Blogged. Facebook

My reason for going back and reworking these shots was to remove camera shake (I had taken these handheld with no tripod. Now I know better) and to use the haze reduction tool.  You’ll have to take my word for it that the sharpness and clarity of these two views are remarkable improvements over the originals.

So if you don’t shoot your images in the RAW format your camera has, think about it.  External drives and on-line storage are  pretty cheap. Flickr is free!   You’ll have the benefit of seeing just about everything your camera has recorded and, you’ll have something to take your mind off an aching back….for a while.   Thanks for the read, have a good week and stop sitting so much!

Photo Of The Week: Nor’Easter

The Sea Oats on the Barrier Dunes bend South as near gale force winds buffet the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Windswept

Windswept

After multiple attempts to get the light on the ocean  where I wanted it, I finally came close to what I had visualized.  Of course, if you’re like me, you’re never satisfied and so you keep going back time and again for the perfect shot.  I’m not sure I can do any better than this.  But,  I’ll keep trying.

Particulars:  Nikon D750 Camera, 24-120 f/4 lens.   Shot with manual exposure, f/8 at 1/640, center weight metering, auto white balance, focal length 65mm.  No filters. I used a Slik tripod for the shot.

My thanks to those who stop by for a look. I appreciate your taking the time.  See you next time if not before.

Photo Of The Week:Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire.  Posted to Flickr November 12, 2016e

The walkway to the Gazebo at Duck, destroyed by Hurricane Irene more than five years ago, is back in business, though this was as far as I could get given the rather formidable chain blocking access.   I suspect the owners now rent it out.  The walkway connects to the Duck Boardwalk which runs along the coast of Currituck Sound for perhaps a mile or so. The late afternoon sun coupled with the perspective made for a rather interesting shot with a wide angle lens. So what has been a roosting place for Seagulls is now ready for humans, but as with most things now, it’s pay to play.  Nikon D800E Camera. 18-35 mm lens. Thanks for the look and have a great week ahead

 

Photo Of The Week: Flags for the Scouts

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This shot of the Stars and Stripes and the State Flag of North Carolina flying on the barrier dunes along the Outer Banks at Sunset was chosen by the Eastern Council of the Boy Scouts of America to be awarded to  selected friends of Scouting for their outstanding support.  Exquisitely matted and framed by Shenandoah Printing and Graphics of Greenville, North Carolina, it is a most impressive presentation.  It was a real honor for the Scouts to select my shot.  I cannot think of a better organization to be associated with.  Thanks for the look.  See you soon.