Topsail Island: Part 5

Friday, June 22, 2018

By Dawn's Light
Here we were, our last day at the beach.  To get you up to speed, I've woken up at or before 5 am each day.  Toni has been bed ridden since Wednesday with a terrible stomach bug, Sierra and Hannah have perfected the art of sleeping in and getting their much needed 12 hours of sleep each.  As morning approached, my camera sat outside on the deck acclimating to the warm and humid conditions of the beach.  I was sleeping soundly in the bed, at that perfect know the one...where nothing will motivate you to leave the bed.  Yep, I was there the minute that the alarm rang at 4:45.  I looked outside and it was pitch black.  The phone would not stop ringing because I no longer had the fine motor skills to operate it with precision.  I was tired.  I mean I was really tired.  All I wanted was to stay in the bed for a little while longer.  However, if I did that, I would be forfeiting my last day at the beach, and taking the route of Grumpy and Giggles (I'll lay claim to Grumpy being mine).  I couldn't let them tie it up on the last day.  I had to take one for the team and get up...which I did.  I think I called myself some bad names though...I was tired.

I got moving and checked the weather.  It was looking pretty cloudy and the chance for a good sunrise was slim. I was OK with that since I had such great luck the day before.  I grabbed my gear and headed out to the sand.  Every step was a strain, and my back refused to be happy about carrying the 30ish pounds of camera yet another day...but I went.

I started to look around to see what caught my interest on the beach.  I could tell right away that a sunrise shot wasn't going to be in the cards.  That meant I could focus on some other things.  I could see a patch of interest in the clouds to the Northwest so I started to look for something that could go underneath those clouds.

What I found was a row of houses just North of where we were staying that caught my eye.  There was a yellow one that had the porch lights turned on and there were matching boardwalks for that house and the neighbor. Just beyond that there was a faint dab of warm color in the sky above the clouds.  This was going to be my subject for the morning.  I grabbed my camera and fitted the 16-35mm lens so that I could get in close and use the grass as a foreground while still including the houses and stairs.  I opted to avoid using a polarizer simply because there was not much light to work with.

I worked on several different variations of the compositions and finally settled on what you see as the opening picture here.  The exposure ended up being 30 seconds so there was actually a bit of movement in the clouds.  I had thought about using a 10-Stop filter, but there wasn't really enough variation in the clouds to really make that interesting.  The slight movement was enough for me in this situation.  The histogram showed that I had all the data in the shot that I needed in order to process it with detail in both the highlights and shadows.  I'll be honest, when I got home and processed this image I was really impressed at how it came out.  There was a good deal of color correcting that went into the image due to the low light, but it really stands well against the other images I had been shooting for the week.

As the sun came up though, I was losing the interest in the clouds above.  I opted to see if there was another angle that I could shoot from which might provide some better images than what I was running into as the day moved on.  I hunted around for a while and then ultimately came back to the same houses.  The angle that I had been shooting from was no longer a viable angle, but I could see that the sun was about to clear the clouds and would be casting a great warm light very soon.  The interesting clouds happened to be just opposite of the sun.

Coastal Residence
I worked on a few compositions and finally decided on a horizontal approach using the stairs as a leading line up the hill and a frame for the blue house on top of it.  I waited for the sun, and shot a frame here and there in case that was the best light that I would get.  My waiting paid off though.  The sun finally crested the clouds and a wonderful warm light hit the stairs and the houses.  The sky above was a wonderful blue with some remnants of clouds scattered about.  This was the image I was after.  I had magic light, and wonderful clouds.  This one got me excited, but only briefly.  I then reminded myself just how tired I was.  My creative juices had run out.  While I still had some good clouds, and good light, I was done looking for interesting subjects to put in front of my camera.

I made the short walk back to the room and started the normal routine.  I found Toni awake, but still in the bed.  The minions were still asleep, so that left us at Old Farts: 1, and the Trunk Monkeys: 0.  My streak was in tact!  I got the camera cleaned up one last time and started to get ready to roll out.  We finally got everyone up and moving and we were on our way back home around 10am.

This has been a very long photo expedition with a lot of ups and downs.  I had started out the processing portion with 390 frames shot.  of those, I had narrowed it down to 40 images that were worth a second look.  By the time I was finished with the processing, that number had been whittled down to just 28 images.  This isn't too bad considering that I was taking a lot of the same scene with different lighting.  There was no sense in showing off the same scene with only subtle differences, so I just picked the best out of the series and went with that.  There were a lot of images that I tried on days which I came back and shot again with much better conditions.  I'm really happy with how the week turned out photographically.  I hate that Toni wasn't able to enjoy the trip, and that, of course, impacted the Wonder Twins and their enjoyment.  But hey, at least that got to sleep and jump over waves.  We even saw a few dolphins in the water.  memories were made, and this is definitely one of those vacations with a lot of funny stories.

Thanks for joining us on our trip, and in case you were wondering, the one kid that we picked up on the way to the beach.  We did take her back and left her where we found her.  She was little redder, and a little sandier than when we found her, but she still had most of her fingers and toes.  As far as Sierra, she is currently catching up on her sleep and is recovering well from the week.  Toni, however, is getting worse and has been occupying the couch all weekend barely able to do anything but sleep.  She is one some medications that should help clear this up, but it is a long waiting game at this point.

Friday <--- You are here

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