It has been about six years since I've been to the beach. I'm not exactly what you would call a beach person, and neither is Toni. However, I do enjoy photographing some different scenery from time to time. The opportunity came up to be able to go for a quick little weekend getaway, and instead of our normal mountain excursion, we decided to head to the coast. Just to change things up, we decided to go to the Outer Banks instead of Carolina Beach where we would typically go. The weather was looking pretty decent with moderate temperatures and roughly 40-70% cloud cover for the entire weekend. That would mean very favorable conditions for photography.
Since we had to leave after I got off from work on Friday, we got to the beach much too late to do anything except for settle into the room and get ready for the next morning. The weather was still looking promising, if not a little cold in the morning. I decided that I would get up about an hour and a half before sunrise, so that I could be out on the beach in plenty of time to find some workable compositions. This is part of the dedication of a photographer, I would have much rather slept in, and enjoyed the sounds of the crashing waves as I woke up. Instead, I had an alarm blaring in my ear.
|Holding Back the Sun|
As the light started to change, I decided to switch to a better location that was no longer back lit from street lights. I moved over to the right about 100 feet, and set up with a slightly different composition. With the wind gusting to 20mph, I decided it was better not to bother switching lenses, so I kept my original setup on the camera and framed a different composition. I was still using the ever available fences for foreground interest, but the landscape had changed.
|Outer Banks Reflections|
With the sun's direct involvement in my photographs done, I started to look around for other possibilities that might present themselves. Looking out over the water was no longer all that interesting, so I looked behind me. As it turned out, the thick clouds above me, were actually starting to get rather interesting with the back light from the sun. Fortunately, there were a few really interesting beach houses that caught my eye, and gave me a composition beneath the clouds to work with.
|A Commanding View|
I was having fun with the houses, but I wanted to work some with the dunes as well, so I moved off of the beach and found a nice vantage point for a dune. I'm sure this won't come as a shock, but I found a nice fence to go with the dune when I was looking. I had actually spotted this the night before from the balcony of the hotel. I wasn't sure how it would work as a picture, but I saw potential in it.
With the conversation over, the picture completed, and Toni back from her morning run, it was time for me to pack it in and go eat breakfast. It was about 8am at this point, and I was getting hungry. After breakfast, Toni and I prepared for our day which would include going out exploring to see what we could see. The clouds that had been so promising in the forecast had decided to become a featureless overcast, so I wasn't thinking too much about photography at this point, but we were going on a road trip anyway.
|Bodie Island Lighthouse|
The day was done photographically. I wasn't sure what I had gotten, or if I had gotten anything at all. Looking back in the camera's LCD wasn't really telling me much since I shoot in a low contrast, low saturation format. Everything just looked blah and washed out. I was hoping that for nearly 70 frames shot, I would have something usable.
The next morning started out much the same as Saturday did. I woke up about 5:15 and checked the weather. The hourly forecast was calling for 45% cloud cover, which would be ideal for my purposes. However, looking out of the window of the hotel room, I found very little clouds in the sky. In fact, I saw not a single cloud. I wasn't going to miss out on my last day of coastal photography, so I went out anyway. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to include much of the sky...if any, I chose to fit my 70-200mm lens which would only pick out a small portion of the horizon which would have some color to it.
|Lighting the Sky|
|Unable to Continue|
Once the sun was up, the little bit of color was gone. I looked above me, and found that there were very little clouds to be found. This was disappointing to say the least. I wasn't ready to call it a day just yet. I hunted around in an attempt to find some different compositions.
With the sun rising ever faster in the sky, I had to work quickly because in no time at all, the sun would be too harsh to be able to do much with. I worked some more with the fences, but never really found much of interest. I did notice that there were a few light clouds moving into the area, and I worked quickly to find a composition to fit below the clouds. The problem was, they were so faint that I wasn't sure I would be able to get them. My mind went into monochrome mode, and I started shooting some frames thinking about using color filters in the conversion to add a little contrast to the sky. I wasn't sure if it would work or not, but I gave it a try.
|Beyond the Fence|
I had now shot 117 frames over two days. I wasn't sure exactly what I had, or if any of them would be usable. I had to fight with conditions that were far from what I was hoping for, or planning for. Fortunately though, I still have enough tricks up my sleeve to work alternative plans on the fly. I would have liked to have shot a lot more, but considering the weather, this was a very successful Trek to the coast!