I do a lot of rural and farm photography. For one thing, it’s where I am and for another, I’ve found a a bit of a market for it. I’m often drawn by what is growing the fields. I suppose cotton is the most photogenic of the crops grown in Eastern North Carolina with Tobacco running a distant second. There’s just something magical about a big field of pure white cotton at dawn. As for Tobacco, I find it quite photogenic when it begins to ripen and flower. Soybeans have little appeal for me until their foliage begins to turn and the beans ripen to a golden brown. I seldom venture into a corn field except to photograph the stalks left in the field in the fall. The less traditional crops here, Sunflowers, Peonies etc will always get my immediate and undivided attention.
Primarily though, I’m drawn by the weather and the sky condition at dawn. A foggy morning will always find me in the field, regardless of what is growing there……even if it’s nothing but weeds
On this particular morning, I was blessed with an interesting sunrise, a healthy crop of tobacco and fog.
That’s tobacco on the left side of the service road, cotton to the right and in the far distance, field corn. The fog, which has begun to burn off, gives the colors a bit of a pop like that of a polarizer. I use no filters when shooting on a foggy morning. I particularly avoid any haze filters and obviously have no need for a polarizer. So next time you encounter a foggy morning out in the boonies, get up, get out there and grab a little magic. Thanks for the visit. Have a good week. See you next time.
This sunrise shot on the beach along the Southern Bogue Banks of North Carolina is without question the best I have taken here since I first started coming down here ten years ago. Suffice to say, it was a keeper and I went to my usual lengths to make sure I held on to it.
If you’ve ever had a memory card get corrupted, and I have, you quickly learn not to take chances. I learned a long time ago to always format memory cards in the camera I’m going to use. It’s probably overkill, but I even go a bit further. I dedicate memory cards to specific cameras even though all are Nikons. One set lives with the D750, another set with the D800e, and a third with the D7100. If you shoot with more than one brand of camera, and these days it’s not unusual to see a Sony or a Fujifilm in the same bag, do yourself a favor and always reformat the card for the specific camera you are going to use. There is no bigger bummer than to spend an entire day shooting and wind up with a corrupted card and nothing to show for the effort.
My sense is that all living things crave it, the solace of isolation. When I was working, it was often expressed as “Quality Quiet Time;” a chance to escape the spotlight of your own circumstance. Edward Hopper’s “Automat” conveys that message to me as does the scene above. There wasn’t another sea gull within sight when I came upon this guy, soaking up the warmth of the coming dawn, a calm, peaceful moment, alone with himself.
This lady above had given me a slight nod when she walked by with her dog, no doubt a daily ritual. When I framed the shot, my thoughts went to Hopper, Wyeth and Warhol. I grew up in a family of painters. I was told once that people who can’t paint go into photography. I couldn’t so i did. Even so, I think the rub-off has served me well. I was still roaming the beach, no doubt looking for my own solace, when she returned; her Lab glistening from a splash in the ocean. We struck up a conversation. She and her husband had just relocated from up north and were refurbishing a house a few blocks off the beach. It reinforced my belief that people who come to the beach, regardless of their station in life, all have the civility of a small town. I suppose the moral of the morning was, place no trust in appearances. Thanks for the look and have a good week. See you next time.
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.
Sour Grass as it is more widely known, is actually Wild Sorrel; a short lived perennial that dots fields and open spaces every Spring along the Eastern United States. Distinguished by its reddish pink color, it is edible to a point point with an acidic, sour taste. It offers a marvelous foreground enhancement when photographing otherwise barren fields prior to Spring planting.
Shot with a Nikon D800E Camera using an 18mm Nikkor Lens, I used my usual set up for sunrise photography: Manual program, Spot metering, taking my exposure reading away from the Sun in the blue sky, f/22 for 1/320th of a second, Auto White Balance, ISO 400. No Filters. I shoot everything in Nikon’s RAW Format (NEF) and I use Photoshop Elements to convert the image to jpeg. Ah yes, I also use a tripod for all landscape shots: A SLIK Pro 5000X. Thank you for the look-in and have a great week.