The Soybean Field II

I spent several more days in the soybean field this past week, drawn by the pre-dawn sky which provides  a rather spectacular backdrop for, lets face it, a rather boring crop in the field.

The above shot was an afterthought.  I was heading back to the house when I happened to turn around and saw the rising sun’s reflection on the cloud bank rolling in from the north.  A reminder of the old photography tip to always turn around.

Taken early that morning from the southwest near the wetlands on the farm.  The rows of soybeans take your eye straight to the pre-sunrise sky.

I don’t usually venture out on overcast days but I made an exception because of the quilted clouds which I could see from my kitchen window.  I’m blessed by living near our farm fields and the beach, which I plan to return to next week.  Thanks for the look. See you next time.

 

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Farm Crops and Photography

  • As the cotton crop neared harvest, the soybeans dropped their leaves and began the slow march toward ripening later in the fall.  As usual, I was out early grabbing some final shots of the cotton and some initial pictures of the soybeans.  The weather cooperated magnificently drawing in clouds which provided a marvelous backdrop to the golden beans and the stark white cotton..

I’ve had good luck over the years marketing these kinds of shots to the various foundations and marketing concerns which promote cotton and soybeans worldwide.  I also like to document what we grow here and since I’m the guy who’s into photography, that falls to me. As for getting up so early, It comes from habit.  I was in broadcast news for more than 40 years, most of it in Radio, which had an early call. I still wake up before dawn every morning.  It dovetails nicely with photography.  I’ve always held the opinion that the best light of the day comes early, from dawn to shortly after sunrise.  Thanks for the look. Have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

Do you make your own luck? Maybe!

My usual guide when planning a pre-dawn trek to the oceanfront is, of course, the weather.  If the forecast is for full sun, I stay home. Full sun at the beach does not make for dramatic photographs. If it’s for a partly cloudy day,  I go.  If it’s for a mostly cloudy day, I go.  BUT,  if the chance of rain is above 40 percent, I will usually stay home.  This particular morning,  I made an exception. The chance of rain was 50 percent with heavy rain in some cells.  I decided to go for it anyway.   I packed up my rain gear including two extra large size Zip Lock Freezer Bags to house my camera bodies in the highly likely event, I would run into rain on the beach.  Within ten minutes of leaving the farm heading east on the beach road, I ran into a mammoth frog strangler. Ten minutes later, I ran into another.  When I arrived 40 minutes after leaving the farm, it was still raining, albeit, lightly. I waited for daybreak, then left for the oceanfront.  When I got there, it was still sprinkling, but the sky and the light were cooperating and the sun was trying to blast through the clouds.

This view is to the East. (The beach on Emerald Isle is not oriented North-South but rather  East to West.)  The steps in the foreground were abandoned and left to the ocean  after last week’s Nor’ester. I thought they added a bit of additional drama to the scene.  When I looked West, toward Lands End, I got the sure sign that the rain was done, at least for the moment. .

It was the first rainbow I can ever recall capturing over the ocean in all my many years of coming here.  The truck on the beach belongs to one of the surf fishermen drawn by the Spanish Mackerel and Albacore that were running.  It was gone within five minutes. To the East, the Sun was coming up amid a glorious bank of clouds.

The roped off area is to keep those who have permits to drive on the beach off the barrier dunes.  So my gamble paid off.  What I wanted to get in the way of  photographs, I got.  But the window of opportunity closed quickly. Just as I was packing up my gear,  it started to rain again.  I read somewhere that you make you own luck.  Maybe! Suffice to say, I was lucky.  Thanks for the read and the look.  See you next time.

Fog at Sunrise 2

 

The thick fog that has been forming toward the dawn for the past few weeks has been yielding some rather surreal views across the rural landscape.  Worthy I thought of posting a couple of additional shots.

Getting into position to take these shots has been an adventure unto itself.  I came within a hair of smashing my face into one of these utility poles feeling my way up the path in the foreground.  The fog was so dense it was like walking through gray cotton.   No filters or tricky processing here. Just raw images converted in Adobe Photoshop. By 9:30 or 10 in the morning, the fog has burned off as the summer heat begins another trip into the high 90’s.  Thanks for the look and have a good week.  See you next time.

Sunrise In The Tobacco Field.

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.

FAA

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.

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.