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Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog

EVE TUREK'S NATURAL OUTER BANKS
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Finding Your Story
Monday evening I taught a class on Mindful Nature Photography. I told those gathered that I often hear questions or comments about equipment (what camera do you have, how many mega pixels is it, that sure is a big lens), more rarely do I hear questions about technique (what settings do you use--as if one size fits all experience--or more precisely, what were your settings when you made a particular image) and almost never do folks ask me about inspiration.

To me, inspiration, finding your story, is the most important foundational quest behind every image. I've made this my life quest: to be inspired, to find the story that is mine to share. With that mindset, images become like chapters, or subplots, in a larger body of work, movements in a longer symphonic composition. My idea isn't to create images that look alike but rather to present a cohesive whole that shares who I am as a person as well as a photographer.

Continuing with the story theme, I began by showing a series of images of the ocean. Many of those images were made with a strong west wind blowing. Each image presented a different appearance and I composed differently based on the common elements of waves and wind and sky with one major difference--the light. The light in each image was different and while the weather conditions might have been similar, the quality and color temperature of the light, whether it was dramatic or soft or flat, elicited different emotional responses to each image I shared.

I love a west wind, particularly after a nor'easter. The seas typically run high for at least a day or two following a blow, sometimes longer, and when the wind shifts the ocean is to me its most dramatic. We've had west winds and high seas for a couple days now on the Outer Banks, and yesterday afternoon, I walked out on Kitty Hawk Pier near sunset. One of those images is below.

The last image is from this morning, shortly after sunrise. Here, the story included a new set of characters--gulls who repeatedly flew into and around the wave splashes. No one was attempting to catch any fish for breakfast. In the spirit of Jonathan Livingston, these gulls seemed to be enjoying the morning cacophony of waves with as much glee as I, for sheer joy.


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West wind, dramatic light. I loved how the white of the salt spray contrasted with the deep blue of the sky behind.

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From 2012. Here what inspired me was the quality of light that turned the ocean almost silver, and the repeated sets of waves and spray. I called this, West Wind.

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Here is an image from earlier in January, our last big blow. From Kitty Hawk Pier.

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Here is the image I posted on the main forum. Kitty Hawk Pier, near sunset, Feb. 9th. Dramatic.

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Gulls in the early morning salt spray.

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Here's a close view of one of the gulls.

posted by eturek at 12:07 PM

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Spirit Deer
At 5:30 pm a few afternoons ago, Pete and I were on our way back to Colington from Duck, driving through Southern Shores, when we suddenly spotted a large herd of deer on the east side of Rt. 12, looking as if they wanted to cross. I slowed down for them as did cars coming the other direction, and saw a sight I'd heard of, but never witnessed: a white deer! Well, to clarify: not strictly white, more like a dalmatian dog, with mostly white fur and black spots and blotches. I'd heard of a piebald deer in Southern Shores, and I'd read over the years different tales and legends of all-white deer, most notably the Legend of the White Doe, set on Roanoke Island in the time of the first colonies.

There have been numerous reports of piebald deer around Southern Shores, Duck, and Corolla over the years. Several message threads on this forum dating back to 2007 report sightings and many have wonderful photographs of full grown bucks and does. My photograph below is...not so wonderful. Read on.

What got my attention first, I am chagrined to admit, was a profound sense of regret, and loss, because we were in Pete's vehicle, not mine, and I'd left my camera behind (despite my general admonition never to do so, and a specific sense earlier that day that I should take it, despite the overcast weather.) All I had was a cell phone and let me tell you, that lens pales in comparison, particularly in the woods at dusk, as you will see below.

But I was determined to prove to myself what I was seeing and hopefully have a clear enough picture to research further. What I was most interested in, admittedly, wasn't the science behind either albino or piebald animals, but the spiritual meaning of the appearance. When nature gifts you with something extraordinary, you do well to pay attention. At first, the only lesson I allowed myself to receive was the lesser one, of regret and a sense of letting not only myself, but the animal kingdom down, by not being prepared. As I said, this was the lesser lesson, but it was all I could think about for the first minutes and hours after the encounter.

Eventually I was calm enough to hear Pete's--and a dear friend's--wise words: the gift was in the sighting itself, not in an image of the sighting. I began to remember old tales of white deer: how King Arthur's Knights would ride off in pursuit of an elusive white deer, and be led to all sorts of adventures otherwise missed. In the Chronicles of Narnia, the four children-turned-kings-and-queens did the same thing, seeking a white stag who would grant the wish of anyone who caught him (no one in Narnia ever did, to my knowledge)--and that quest led them back to England and their childhood lives there once again. In Native American stories from the west, white animals in particular are messengers of the Great Spirit, whether wolves, bears, buffalo or deer, and are always portents of some great, glad shift in circumstance--either for the individual, the tribe, or the world at large.

I researched a bit online and found resources which confirmed the general sense of all those myths and legends, adding content from Asian stories as well. In general, white is a symbol of purity, innocence, higher thought; in some Native American traditions, white is the color of the north, which signifies wisdom and the elders, as well as the incubation time between harvest and a new cycle growth--whether of crops, critters or ideas.

Deer are gentle, sensitive creatures. One fact about them I have always found fascinating is that their hoof prints look like tiny hearts in the sand or mud. So for me, deer are also symbolic of the idea of walking deliberately in lovingkindess. That is a message I receive when I see one, or follow its tracks. Doe deer also can symbolize creativity and spirituality--those meanings would be intensified when coupled with the white color. Bucks can stand for strength, resilience, abundance and longevity -- a white buck would add the attributes of strength of spirit and mind as well as body, and gained wisdom to those general meanings.

The piebald characteristics speak to me of balance. Black is for many tribes the color of the west, or fall, and represents autumn--both the time of harvest and the beginning of hibernation when new life or new ideas can germinate. Introspection is a quality associated with that direction of the compass and that season of life. In addition to our natural aging through life, and the cycle of a calendar year, many tribes also recognize what we also might call seasons or chapters in our lives, some of which may be longer or briefer than others, and all of which might have lessons or opportunities repeated many times throughout one lifetime.

Now, there are scientific facts about piebald deer which are equally valid. The trait is genetic, occurring in about 1 in 100 births; so it makes sense that an increase in the piebald appearance is also a sign of inbreeding. Sometimes the rare coloring is also associated with physical deformities (but not always). Only six states have granted true albino or piebald deer protection; all the others, including North Carolina, perhaps in recognition of the deformities some of these carry, allow them to be hunted alongside their typically colored herd mates.

Once the deer crossed the road, Pete and I turned around and I pulled over and pulled out the only record-keepers I had at hand, our cell phones. His is newer than mine and the picture quality is better (which is a little like saying X Grocery store brand of canned chicken soup is better than Y's brand when neither tastes anything remotely like homemade!) Nonetheless, the best tool is the tool at hand. The two half-way clear photographs of the young deer are below.

At bottom, seeing such unusual creatures is a gift. What I needed most was to remember that, and to stop and ponder my larger lesson in the sighting.


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This is a young deer. No telling, this time of year and at this distance, whether it is a young doe or young buck. It generally stuck close to the nearest adult.

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Stuck close, that is, until the others began to move deeper into the woods, white it stayed and locked eyes with me for what seemed like minutes before it followed the adults out of sight.

posted by eturek at 9:26 PM

Comments [3]



Sunday, January 3, 2016
Endings and Beginnings...
A new year always inspires hindsight and foresight, assessing what has been and anticipating what is coming. As one year concludes and another begins, I thought a fitting blog topic might be Favorite Sunsets and Sunrises of 2015. Although I shared some sunrise and sunset images randomly in the blog over the past year, there were others I never took the time to process, although I'd marked the RAW files as favorites when I first looked at the images. Some I processed and printed for Yellowhouse Gallery but never shared here.

So in the spirit of looking back in order to peer ahead, here are my sunset and sunrise offerings from 2015 for you to enjoy.


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"Afterglow" occurred early in 2015. I loved the kisses of pink in an otherwise dark, dramatic sky.

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This was made earlier the same evening--Groundhog Day, 2015.

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Here is a long-exposure sunrise from the photo workshop I attended in April. In processing this yesterday I realized "pink" was a sub-theme for 2015!

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Same morning, also a long exposure. Standing under NH Pier.

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Sunset behind the Bodie Lighthouse, also from the April workshop. We were blessed with over-the-top skies morning and evening.

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Here is another from that same weekend; this time, the exposure is even longer and what is lighting the water, pre-dawn, is the moonlight.

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This sunset is from Salvo on St. Patrick's Day.

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This was the most intensely pink sunset I've experienced in a long time, after some stormy skies earlier. Mid-March 2015.

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Same evening. The sky looked almost fake even while I was standing under it!

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This is my most recent dusk excursion to the sea. As the setting sun began to gild the edge of the surf, I was joined for a little while by a lone winter willet.

posted by eturek at 2:41 PM

Comments [1]



Sunday, December 27, 2015
December's Gifts
Many are the gifts of December.

Some of us may think immediately of wrapped packages, stuffed stockings, the delighted ooohs and squeals of childhood. Others may think of tables heavy with turkeys or hams or beef roasts, of Italian cookies, or meatless meals to end Advent's waiting. Still others (me included) may think of the bear hugs of those we have missed seeing until the herald of the holidays brings them home again. Some of us think of the longest, darkest nights beginning slowly, gently to yield once again to the growing gifts Light brings. Some of us celebrate new babies born in the year and think of the Babe whose Birth inspires the "season of giving." All of this celebrating of new gifts, of new life, of new light comes right on the edge of a New Year, right when most of us could use a reset button after the bustle of the holidays, and especially if the "happy new year" wishes of 2015 turned out to be not-so-happy by year end.

Nature gives gifts, too. This December, our Outer Banks gifts have come wrapped in fog, as record warm temperatures prevailed for most of the month. Fog has a way of revealing as well as obscuring. Whatever is closest to us comes sharply into view while the background fades into insignificance. Fog is a herald, inviting us to examine our focus, sharpen where necessary, and decide what is truly important. Maybe that is why I love it so much.

On Christmas Eve morning with the white skies fog creates, I heard an odd call as I was out with the dogs. I came back outside after I brought them in, walking slowly in the direction of the sound. Who IS that? I thought briefly of a woodpecker (I'd seen a Downy a few days earlier) but this was a one-note call, not the typical trailing, laughing trill I associate with woodpeckers in general. Eventually the bird moved into the open and I could see plainly--a Pileated Woodpecker. Once I spotted it, the bird quit calling and began to feed on the berries growing high in the tangle where it had perched. It stayed put long enough for me to go back inside, get car keys, open my camera case, switch lenses and once again approach, asking permission to make a photograph.

Pileated woodpeckers are special, extraordinary gifts to our family. A Pileated tended to show up around our yard every time Pete's younger son Patrick came to visit. Didn't matter what month he came, the Pileated always came, too. We'd go months without seeing either one and then both would show up at once. Eventually I told Patrick the Pileated must be his totem; he learned to be on the lookout for it when he came to visit.

After Patrick died in May 2011, we were all surprised (and more than a bit astonished) that the bird continued to visit--on all the major holidays, the ones Patrick would have arrived for. We wouldn't see it for months, and then it would appear, on Father's Day, Pete's birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas. This lasted a couple of years, and then we began seeing the bird less frequently. I've looked for it all year without a single sighting...until Christmas Eve. Coincidence? Craziness? We don't think in those terms anymore. The fact that it came on a foggy morning helped me focus not only my lens, but also my heart--another gift of December.







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When we don't have fog, December sunsets can be among the year's most vibrant.

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Earlier in the month, we had a few days of wind-driven waves.

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I call this Utter Abandon. I could just as easily have named it Exuberance. Something about the close focus here speaks Joy to me.

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A dear friend and I spent a rare couple of hours on the beach near Nags Head Pier. That day brought many gifts--this rainbow spray was one of them.

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Pelican in late light--the sun is just above the horizon in the west, gilding everything it touches eastward.

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I went to Jennette's Pier looking for whales. Instead, these two young peek-a-boo dolphins were my gift.

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I've been eyeballing this dock, trying to photograph it well, for years. What I needed was fog to give the dock the attention it deserves.

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Ditto. Without the fog, this scene is cluttered and impossible to photograph well.

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Here is a photo I didn't take: the Christmas gift of three of our grandsons home at once.

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And here is our Pileated visitor. What do we say when we receive a gift, be it wrapped in a bow or a hug? Thank You.

posted by eturek at 12:07 PM

Comments [6]



Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Going to Duck
People ask me sometimes why I take workshops (especially in my own backyard). Here’s why: as a mindful photographer—and as a person—I need to seek and to see the fresh in the familiar. It’s easy for me to be inspired in a place I’ve never been before, or with a critter or a bird I’m encountering for the first time. The challenge in the daily is to see and feel and be inspired and engaged where you are. To me, this doesn’t mean being close-minded to change. Seeing fresh IS change—change of perspective or focus. Change of angle of view. Change of pace.

Margo Pinkerton and Arnie Zann, who are Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures, returned to the Outer Banks in late October first for their regular fall workshop here and then for a mini-version over a weekend specifically created for the OBX chapter of Carolinas Nature Photographers Association (and some friends from out of the region). We went to the same places we visited in the spring, and that I photograph year-round, year after year.

I love the cliché quote, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back over my year’s portfolio, I can see I have been drawn repeatedly to the Duck boardwalk. Starting in September 2014 with my search for migrating fall warblers, to the BCPA workshop in April, right through to the end of October 2015 and several visits in between, Duck has become a new go-to place for me over the past 12 months. And now I know why.

For those of you who have not heard, Pete and I have acquired what has been SeaDragon Gallery, located on the boardwalk in the Waterfront Shops in Duck. Pete will stay in Nags Head as “branch manager” at Yellowhouse, along with help from OBC’s own VintageArt (aka Judith Bailey) and Robin Rogers. The change will allow him to slow his pace a bit, do much less custom framing, and instead spend time serving our gallery customers there. Meanwhile, I and a wonderful staff will be running The Gallery In Duck—still offering the American fine handcrafts in jewelry, pottery, and woodworking SeaDragon Gallery has been known for—along with some local art, and an increased offering of my own photography there. It’s a life lesson in seeing fresh, being open to change, and being willing to experience the familiar in a new way by changing our angle of view. I’m excited to begin our new chapter serving folks on both ends of the beach north of Oregon Inlet. So if you are “stuck in Duck” this coming vacation season, by all means drop in The Gallery in Duck, in the Waterfront Shops! And if you are in or near Nags Head, come by Yellowhouse Gallery and see the new work we are now able to offer there as well. Life is a river, healthiest when it follows the flow. As are we.

Of course, Duck is not the only place I’ve been lately! I had a wonderful opportunity to speak at the annual Volunteers luncheon at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras in mid-November. I made an earlier trip down to coordinate the program’s technical components and I stopped to photograph at Frisco Pier both times.

Some of those images from Duck as well as a couple from Frisco and Pea Island are below. Enjoy!


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Sunsets and sunrises are like fingerprints--every one is different.

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I love the serenity evoked by still waters.

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Here, the mackerel sky reflected in the sound reminded me of an impressionist mosaic.

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Perfect evening for a soundside paddle along the Duck boardwalk.

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The layers of clouds lent drama to what otherwise might have been mistaken for a bland sunset.

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Pelicans at Frisco Pier.

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Commercial fishing boat with birds following, off Frisco.

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Dawn on Pea Island.

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When I made the choice to head to the sea at sunset, I did not anticipate that the largest flock of willets I have seen in many years would join me at dusk. What a wonderful gift.

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I recently photographed a Dove Release in Kill Devil Hills. I call this particular image, Let Peace Prevail, a fitting sentiment not only now, in the holiday season, but every day.

posted by eturek at 9:42 PM

Comments [1]



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