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.

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In the Fog at Sunrise

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.

Photo of The Week: Big Blow

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I’m guessing the wind was gusting up to 50 mph.  I was crouched on top of the barrier dunes at Southern Shores, North Carolina and even with my tripod planted in the sand, it was hard to keep the camera steady.  The sea oats  and  the ocean tell the story.  This was the first Tropical Storm/ Hurricane I had ridden out on the coast since the 70’s.  It was a sobering experience.  Nikon D3X  24mm lens.   Have  a good week and thanks for the look.

 

 

Photo Of The Week: Dawn At The Tree Line

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This scene is on our farm and if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you have probably discerned that I am constantly drawn to it, particularly during the late fall and winter months.  The sun’s daily arc moves to the south during the winter months which  lines it up perfectly behind the tree line for a pleasing composition.  Cloudy mornings are an added bonus and we have been blessed with many this year.  As was the case with the billowing clouds above, they are usually a prelude for violent weather.  This shot in early March was followed by several days of heavy downpours and powerful winds that pummeled the farm, flooding the fields and toppling a few trees.  This was taken with a Nikon D800E camera and a Nikon 24-120 mm f/4 lens.  No filters were used. Thanks for the visit and have a great week ahead. 

 

Photo Of The Week: The Cardinal In The Wetlands

Blogged 1/23/16

Blogged 1/23/16

I could almost sense the thought balloon hanging over his head. “What on earth are you doing down here in this miserable weather?”   It was pretty nasty. We’d had a good smothering of freezing rain and sleet Friday and a ton of rain overnight. Saturday brought high winds (45-50 mph gusts here on the farm) and a pretty good dusting of snow showers. The flakes were still stirring when I trudged down to my make-shift bird blind near the wetlands here with camera and a sack of sunflower seeds in tow. The bird blind is nothing to write home about. A jury rigged shack really, pieced together with old tobacco sticks, burlap and wire ties. It serves to keep me behind the curtain so to speak. My thought was the leaden sky and the random snow showers would be conducive to some bird shots. No sooner had I spread a handful or two of sunflower seeds around the river birch than Mr. Cardinal showed up and gave me that look before flapping off, no doubt spreading the word that some lunatic was giving away sunflower seeds on the edge of the swamp. .

I was using the Nikon D7100 camera with a 300mm lens, which on the small sensor D7100, lengthens its reach to 450mm, more than enough to crank in the birds which take their sunflower seed up into the River Birch to crack open.  I used the usual settings save for one change. With the high wind, and the nervous nature of the birds, I switched from Aperture priority to Shutter Priority, setting my shutter speed to 320 and the lowest ISO I could get away with. I have but two gripes with the D7100. One is the small buffer. The other, and the one that really bugs me, is the location of the quality button. I am forever hitting it by mistake during shooting unknowingly changing the quality from RAW to one of the JPEG configurations which I am loathe to use.  My other cameras have the Quality button tucked away in a less precarious spot. It’s one reason why I’m giving the just announced Nikon D500 a close look. There’s much to like, including the location of the quality button, and speed. The D500 is rated at 10 frames per second. It’s also pricey at two grand. The XQD memory card it uses is also pricey: a 32gig will set you back more than a hundred. As I said, I’m thinking about it, just as Nikon wants me too. Stay warm everybody. See you next time. Jh

Photo Of The Day: Atmospherics

Blogged January 17, 2016

To say its been an unusual winter in coastal and eastern North Carolina would be an understatement.  To say its been an usually warm winter would not be.  Many mornings, its seemed more like late summer than winter with clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70’s to the low 80’s.  When we’ve had clouds, more often than not, its been all clouds, overcast with no sun.  Those kinds of days are not conducive to spectacular dawns like the above.

 I’ve often thought that we have more picturesque mornings when colder weather prevails in advance of a front which brings clouds and precipitation and that was the situation heading into this weekend.    A heavy frost and broken clouds welcomed the dawn with a fabulous show.  I took 20 shots or so as the sun moved closer to breaking the horizon.  The shot above was number 10 and marked the zenith of the light show that morning.

There isn’t a lot of prep.  I have an app that tells me the position of the sun, the time of the dawn and sunrise etc and I always check “Weather Underground Radar” for the zip I’m in.  A walk to the field takes maybe 10 minutes.  I seldom use filters on morning shots. Sometimes if the dawn is very bright, I’ll use a split neutral density filter.  As for settings:  As low an ISO as possible, f/22, manual exposure and spot metering particularly after sunrise.  I also remove the UV filter from my lens. It helps cut down on the number of sun flares on the glass.    The most important setting is probably your alarm clock.  You’ve got to be there before the show starts.  There’s a very short window for getting good dawn shots.  If you see it happen before you’re on location, its over.  Thanks for the read and the look.

Photo Of The Day: Cherry Blossoms

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Cherry Blossoms here on the farm on a very windy day.  Given the conditions, I had little choice but to use Shutter Priority Mode for this shot.  I dialed up the shutter speed to either 1/400 or 1/500 for this shot which was enough to grab these blowing blooms with a reasonable degree of sharpness. Waiting another day was not an option. We’re expecting a very hard freeze tonight.  The weather people are evening forecasting a good chance of snow flurries overnight. April first is our average last day for a hard freeze here on the coast so I suspect, I hope, this will be winter’s last stand.  It’s not leaving without a fight.  Thanks for the look and have a great weekend.