Dawn was rubbing against the windshield of my ancient RAV 4 as I negotiated a seldom used, overgrown path next to a corn field. A very angry thunderstorm had slowly snailed across the area overnight dumping biblical amounts of rain. I had stopped just short of an almost washed out causeway over a drainage ditch that had not drained. I decided not to chance it. Getting old slowly robs you of your confidence. I grabbed my cameras and legged it the rest of the way. I was sure that just around the corner of the treeline on the left was the goose that laid the golden egg, or, in this case, a golden sunrise amidst a cloudy sky over a large tobacco field. I was not disappointed.
I’ve always dreamed about living within driving distance of Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons, but one plays the cards they are dealt. My hand, such as it is, “ain’t” too bad. The picturesque North Carolina Coast is nearby, but on this particular day, tobacco fields were on the to-do list. I’ve had good luck licensing shots to various tobacco foundations and branding firms over the years, the great majority of which are overseas. Smoking, I suppose, is still very much in vogue there. Mind you, I’m no great fan of tobacco. One of the hardest things I ever did was kick the smoking addiction. My wife grew up on a small tobacco farm and says you would be hard pressed to find a more miserable way to earn a living. Having said that, I submit that tobacco has a certain artistic quality to it. The huge green leaves which slowly morph to a golden brown as the plant ripens along with the pink flowers make for a very pleasing scene.
I donned a long sleeved shirt before venturing down the row. Skin coming in contact with tobacco, particularly when it is wet after rain, is a must to avoid. My wife has many stories about nicotine poisoning when she was a young girl. Those memories led us to get out of the tobacco growing business more than a decade ago when I retired from broadcast news. Our crop this year will be cotton; to my mind, one of the more picturesque of farm crops. There is just something about a field covered in white at sunrise. Stay tuned.
I apologize for being AWOL last week. I suffer from Pudendal Neuralgia. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say, there are good days and bad days. Last weekend was not good. As I’ve learned in my old age, learn to enjoy your struggles. As always, thanks for the look and have a good week ahead. See you next time.
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.
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.
The Sea Oats on the Barrier Dunes bend South as near gale force winds buffet the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
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.
For several years running, the Christmas day sunrise has been nothing short of spectacular here, to the point of becoming an almost spiritual thing. Not This year. We were greeted this morning with an overcast sky and patches of misty rain, the result of a warm front that marched through late yesterday and overnight. But the Christmas weekend was not a total washout.. Christmas Eve morning was a keeper. With the colder air, the scene could be from October. There were just enough clouds to reflect the warm morning light. I had seen the clouds moving in over the tall lob lolly pines from my kitchen window and grabbed my camera. No filters. Nikon D750 fitted with a 24-120mm f/4 lens. Iso 400, custom white balance, though Automatic on the 750 is quite good. Manual exposure. Spot metering. 1/125th of a second at f/22 which explains the slight flare to the sun. Best wishes to all for a great holiday and a safe and prosperous 2017.
I’ve posted many shots of the stately Live Oak that anchors the old Civil War Ear Cemetery on our farm, so in that regard this shot is nothing new but, of course, as the seasons change so does the view. I rather liked the eerie warm hues generated by the dawn light on this early December morning, contrasting the golden tones of the ripening soybeans in the field with the dissipating dark clouds in the North sky, while throwing the old tree into silhouette. I had taken the 812 warming filter with me that morning but on live view, it added a bit too much warmth so I took it off the lens. As with most of my efforts here on the farm, the light is the big star here. Nikon D800E. 18-35mm lens.
A Side Note! I usually post on Sundays but I had a rather horrific accident on Saturday evening. I had driven into the City of Kinston to photograph a new tribute to the role of Tobacco played in the economy here. On my way to the scene, I took a shortcut through a parking lot. I tripped on a raised area in the paved lot and crashed the left side of my face , my left eye in particular on the asphalt. By the time I got to the Emergency Room, the eye had swollen completely shut with only a purple golf ball size lump where my eye was. I was virtually certain I had fractured my skull and/or the orb of my left eye socket, but CT scans proved otherwise. There were no fractures. The doctors in the ER were as amazed as I was. Back home, I popped a handful of ibuprofen and began the ritual of 20 minutes of ice on the injured eye, 20 minutes off, and repeating that on into Saturday night and through Sunday. The swelling had been reduced by about half by Sunday morning and I could see out of the injured eye which, as one might suspect, was completely bloodshot. This and the swelling has left me with blurred vision in my left eye. A visit to the Eye MD this morning revealed no damage to the eyeball or to the implant in the injured eye. Now it’s just a matter of warm compresses to help the red eye dissolve and the rest of swelling to subside. Ah yes, so what happened to the brand new Nikon D750 I was carrying that day. It was in my right hand when I took my tumble and it struck the pavement with me. though it came out far better than I did. No dings, dents, or scratches. And yes, it still works. Nikon builds em tough. Moral of the story: when you’re out and about, watch where you’re going and pick your feet Up! God willing and I avoid falling into a hole somewhere, I’ll see you next time.
One of the oldest of Photography “Rules” is in play here. I say “Rules” because, of course, there are no rules ,and those that have been passed down come with the caveat, “made to be broken.” Over the years though, I’ve found this one is worth remembering: when all else fails, get low! As it was, this was no shot at all when I first saw it. The distant dark tree line swallowed the scene. But by getting low, the high grass stalks met that incredible orange of the dawn sky and bingo, a scene worth capturing. I thought it was a rather pleasing shot. So did my followers on flickr. It got a lot of hits and faves and so forth. I decided to put it on my web site and sold a small print the first day. So, a worthwhile photography that all came about because I “went low.” Mind you, “getting low” is not something I do much of these days. At my age, getting low is one thing, getting back vertical is quite another, but this shot made even the complaining knees worth it. Nikon D800E. 18-35mm lens. Thanks for the look and have a great week.