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

EVE TUREK'S NATURAL OUTER BANKS
Thursday, February 16, 2017
A winter surprise
2017 has been a roller-coaster year so far, and I don’t mean just the weather (or the nightly news). In early February first Pete, then I, caught bronchitis, sidelining both of us for the first half of the month. We did manage to sit outside on our front porch for an hour or so on that record-breaking warm Sunday afternoon, but that is as far as we got.

Midway through January our photo club outing was an inside playful date with macro. Photographer Dan Beauvais brought fun props and gave good advice to those of us who are intrigued by macro photography but don’t do macro that often. I had an enjoyable few hours that Saturday morning and then the weather turned cold again.

Good thing the end of January held an exciting adventure. Fellow photographer and gallery staffer Phyllis Kroetsch took off for two nights to Seagrove, NC, with two aims: we wanted to bring home some fresh NC pottery offerings for both Yellowhouse and SeaDragon galleries, and, being photographers, we had plans to soak in a landscape more rolling and rural than we see every day. The morning we left boasted the prettiest sunrise I’d seen in a long time and we visited the beach before heading west.

Seagrove did not disappoint—so much so that we plan to return this fall if possible. Our biggest challenge was to stay on task, as the folks there are so friendly and welcoming that it was easy to spend a couple of hours in any one pottery studio, getting to know the potter and his or her processes and picking just the right pieces to bring back home.

Before our trip, I had the impulse to google “Timbavati White Lions.” (If you have no idea what that is, I encourage you to google for yourself!) What does that have to do with Seagrove pottery? I first read about the recessive gene that causes some tawny lions to have pale cubs, with blue eyes similar to white tigers, some 30 years ago. The gene has surfaced only in the Timbavati section of Africa’s Krueger National Park, which happens to be a nature preserve; nonetheless, as word got out about the rare lions, they became targets for illegal trophy hunting. All remaining existing white lions were brought into captivity and placed around the world in refuges or zoos to preserve the genetic line about 2005. Meanwhile, a few more white cubs have been born in the wild since. Perhaps a dozen or so exist in the wild now. Fast forward to my google search. I have looked repeatedly hoping to find an American refuge where one of the lions was housed, to no avail. But now, great news! A tiger rescue just an hour’s drive from where we were staying houses one of the Timbavati white male lions! I could scarcely believe we would be so close, after all my years of longing to see one, and I made arrangements for us to visit.

Michael, as he has been named, was every bit as magical and majestic as I could have imagined. Being able to look into his blue eyes, and whisper “Asante” – Swahili for “thank you” – was a thrill I will not soon forget. The rescue is small and depends completely on donations and volunteer help. Do I wish Michael could be free to run across his native land without fear of being hunted illegally before even reaching maturity? Indeed, yes. Am I glad I got the chance to be in his presence at all? Again, yes. And thanks to the wonders of photography, I can share his beauty with you.









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One bonus of roller coaster weather is fog as the temperatures fluctuate between warmer and cold. Under Nags Head Pier one foggy afternoon in January.

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Winter sunsets are the prettiest!

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What do you get when you mix food coloring, water, and oil? A new universe--through a macro lens, anyway!

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This is actually a composite of two images, one with smoke, one with fire.

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One thing I love about this sort of macro is that the photographer is free to create, using props at hand. Time for Love is a good example.

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Back to reality...here is the over-the-top vibrant sunrise on the morning we left for Seagrove.

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Picturesque houses and barns were everywhere!

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Meet Michael, one of the few remaining Timbavati White Lions.

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My favorite children's books are the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, in part because they led me to faith. For years I've imagined meeting God as both Jesus AND Aslan. Perhaps He will look like this.

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Here is Michael with his lioness, Star. I obliterated the background and any evidence of confinement in order to isolate the pair as they might appear in an African night.

posted by eturek at 9:08 PM

Comments [3]



Thursday, January 12, 2017
Roller Coaster Weather
So far, 2017 has been a rollercoaster, weather wise. The year began with mild temperatures that quickly rose to spring-like and a high of 63 degrees by the 3rd. All that unseasonably warm and damp air produced thick fog over the Sound. I had an errand in Duck and was thrilled to spot a Great Blue Heron tucked into one cove on my drive up. Normally his little perch is cluttered with background shrubbery and rubbish in the water. Fog brings simplicity, and actually heightens focus in an otherwise muddled scene such as this one. Up at my little cove at the Waterfront Shops, the Canada Geese and Tundra Swan were paddling and resting. One swan duo was even sleeping but without tucking their heads under wing, behavior I had not photographed before, and didn’t realize until I enlarged the images back at home. I was there in late afternoon, which usually sees a lot of coming and going as geese fly in and out, and the whole group of geese suddenly took off right as I was photographing them. Great timing!

A scant week later we were under the same winter storm warning as the rest of the east, but the predicted snowfall mostly missed our area. Instead, we got a nor’easter with windy gusts and temperatures in the mid-30s, not enough to snow and but definitely raw and miserable outside. (Just ask my two dogs). Later in the afternoon, the temp dropped just before the moisture moved out. Rain transitioned to sleet and then a dusting of snow. I had to meet a framing customer at Yellowhouse late that afternoon; the timing of the appointment was perfect, as I was leaving the gallery shortly after the sleet ended and the snow (what there was of it) began. Areas to our north got walloped; even the northern Outer Banks got more than Nags Head or Kill Devil Hills.

But on my way back home I veered off course down Soundside Road to take a quick look at Jockeys Ridge with a wee bit of snow. I actually like those early moments of snowfall, when the white lays in pockets against the golden sand. I like the contrast of the white and gold, even before the dunes get turned into miniature snow-covered mountains, which never happened this time. And yes, I was disappointed. I figure, if it is going to be as cold as 35 degrees, with a nor’easter sending wind chills down into the teens, then it should snow already! The least the winter storm owes us is some pretty scenery! I strayed one more time closer to home to photograph a little more snow at Run Hill. By then I had groceries in the car so I merely rolled down the window.

With all that northeast wind, the Sound was driven out, so when the deep freeze came later that night, with temperatures in the mid-twenties, the resultant frozen Sound wasn’t quite as pretty as it might otherwise have been, at least not along Colington Road where I finally got a look at it just before it thawed out on Tuesday.

As I write this, the temperature has climbed into spring again, and is in the mid-60’s! That just might be a recipe for another brilliant sunset. I saw glimpses out the window last night but just couldn’t get there. Meanwhile, here are the two looks we have seen so far this year: fog, and a dusting of white.


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When I climbed out of my car at Jockey's Ridge with the wind blowing, it was COLD! Snow was just beginning to fall.

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A wide view of the back side of Jockey's Ridge shows little pockets and drifts of snow against the sand.

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In the time it took me to walk back to the car and drive back up Soundside Road, the south-facing slopes were beginning to be more white than gold.

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You can see (I hope) how hard the wind was blowing.

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Here is a snowy Run Hill. We didn't get much more snow than this in Kill Devil Hills.

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Great Blue Heron, fishing in the fog.

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These Tundra Swan were napping, which I did not realize until I enlarged the image back at home.

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These two look as if they are striking out for the great unknown. I call it, To Boldly Go. (Yes, I am a Trekkie.)

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The Canada Geese blasted off right when I was there. I love how you can tell how dense the fog is here.

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This was fun! Between the fog and dusk, the lights at the Waterfront Shops began to glow and drip in the damp.

posted by eturek at 11:40 AM

Comments [3]



Saturday, December 31, 2016
Counting Down The Year
Late fall on the Outer Banks brings two events together: the slowdown of the busy rental and retail season, and the arrival of huge winter flocks of waterfowl into the region. To celebrate both, I have had several chances to be out and about lately with camera in hand.

In early December, the Mackay Island NWR in Currituck holds an Open Roads weekend, allowing visitors the chance to drive around the refuge that is normally open only to pedestrians. Friend/fellow photographer/Yellowhouse Gallery staffer Phyllis Kroetsch and I went up, taking the long route around through lower Virginia and timing our trek to arrive just after sunup when the refuge gate swung open.

Our drive in the dark was rewarded right away by a family of otters who were swimming about and hunting up breakfast in a canal right near the refuge entrance. We also saw a number of young ibis and a Great Blue Heron that let us approach fairly closely—more so than I usually get to do north of, say, Florida.

We scoped out the Bald Eagle nest in the middle of the diked area but saw no occupants there; however, as we were driving the dikes a Bald Eagle flew towards us, veering off course long enough to look us square in the eye before heading on. Terrific moments. We saw a few swan within the diked areas but not too many; most of those were far to the north on open water and they obligingly lifted off en masse just as we were leaving in early afternoon.

On the way home, we stopped at a soundside spot that another friend, Doris Flatum, had suggested I visit to photograph. By every usual photographic rule, the light was all wrong for the images I was trying to conceive. As I have shared here before, one way around that dilemma is to deliberately over expose; another is to convert to black and white, and still another is to aim directly into the light source and allow the resulting backlight/flare/rays to become a photographic element in the final image. You can see that choice illustrated below.

Of course, the best way to photograph in the right light is to go back! So I revisited the area last week, and had the joy of meeting one of the nearby landowners during what was one of the most vibrant sunsets of 2016. Now I have not only new images, but also a new friend. This is the time of year when the humidity drops; increased clarity coupled with cirrus clouds make for the best sunset color of the year. We’ve had some more beautiful evenings in Duck, too, and I am very pleased to report that our little family of Buffleheads is back in the cove, along with several dozen Tundra Swan. Pea Island’s ponds hold even more birds now than they did a month ago, including snow geese. Winter’s beauty abounds already.


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Otters swimming near the entrance to Mackays Island NWR.

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This Great Blue Heron was content to allow us to create its portrait.

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This section is a tiny part of a much larger group of swans a-flying.

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We had a small family of Buffleheads in our cove at the end of winter last year. I think this is the same group back again!

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My new favorite image of Pintails. New Years Eve, from the boardwalk at the Bodie Island lighthouse.

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A recent vibrant sunset in Duck.

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Here is the "wrong" time of day photograph. I love the light shafts and shadows which I could never have included had I been there at the "correct" time.

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Overexposing on purpose, and converting to black and white allows the higher contrast light of midday to emphasize the beautiful form of the trees.

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Driftwood along Currituck Sound.

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I call this, Holy Ground. The cirrus clouds looked like celestial flames surrounding the Bald Cypress.

posted by eturek at 4:22 PM

Comments [6]



Saturday, November 26, 2016
Follow Your Arrow
As a photographer, I set personal challenges, some of which the larger world never sees. Not every properly exposed, powerfully composed, right-place-right-time image warrants gallery wall space, where every square inch ideally contributes to paying its share of total expenses. Some photographs never do grab a customer’s attention. But that doesn’t mean they serve no purpose, or that the time I spent outside to see them was wasted. As a dear friend reminded me today, some experiences, some images, are meant for me alone. They encourage or inspire or empower or embolden or strengthen or comfort or call out to…me.

Personal challenges remind me that I am in this, this walking-seeing meditation I call photography, for the long haul. When I hurt my back in October, I had to endure a period of inactivity, of forced rest in order to heal. The hardest part was not being able to be outside, camera in hand, for what I consider the prettiest light of the year. I make a large part of my livelihood through my photography. But photography is also how I make a large part of my life, my inner life. Coupled with my morning journaling time, which has become for me praying-on-paper, photography is a vital practice of being present. One of my favorite old hymns echoes a prophet’s response to a larger call: Here I am, Lord; send me. I think that, standing in a gale looking out at a wind-driven sea; I think that, standing in a stillness so palpable I can almost hear the Quiet calling my name, echoing in the reflections of birds gliding on calm water. Here I am. That is what every image answers: here I am. May I be truly present, may I be sensitive to the gifts of the moment, may I be faithful to share when prompted.

There are times I receive a gift through a photograph that I know is meant for someone else. Sometimes I know in the moment whose the image is; other times, its larger purpose is revealed much later. Those are the images I print without knowing when or to whom they will speak. I only know they were gifts and as much as I need patience out in the field, to wait out the right sweet light, or the best moments with wildlife, I often need just as much, if not more, patience once I click the shutter, process the photo, and then wait for its person to show up.

One of my personal challenges is to find new ways to experience and express each season of the year. The seasons are life-metaphors, too, as well as signposts of the Four Directions many Native American tribes use as signposts for personal growth.
Autumn can be thought of as the season of harvest, of abundance, of seeds planted and watered now bearing fruit. A signal of later midlife, autumn is also the season associated with the West cardinal point of the compass, a time for introspection, for going within oneself to bring forth the culmination of the annual cycle in winter wisdom. Together, fall and winter offer interludes of examination, assessment, rest and wisdom that help fuel another spring’s worth of creative growth and insight.

We are two-thirds of the way through fall now, nearly three-quarters of the way through the year. We’ve had our first few crisp colder nights, and days like today with temperatures in the low 50’s. Sunsets are more vivid with lowered humidity. While we don’t have large stands of maples or aspen to turn whole fields or mountainsides into glorious washes of red or yellow, we do have our own harbingers of the season. Photography has taught me this, as I have gone out to see what I can find that calls to me of autumn, both in the larger landscape around, and in my own inner year and life-cycle.

Late yesterday afternoon, I followed an impulse and went down to Pea Island. I haven’t been for months, and I had only an hour or so before the light would be too dim to photograph there. I almost didn’t go. When I arrived, the ponds to the north and south of the visitor’s center held more birds than I have seen there in many years, since before the dikes were damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Thousands of different ducks and hundreds of other birds including tundra swan and pelicans, both white and brown, dotted the ponds. Periodically the ducks would blast off in huge clouds, performing aerial dances reminiscent of the murmurations of starlings.

The raft of Redhead Ducks closest to me rested, their heads tucked under wing. Finally when there was no more than a pink afterglow from the sun’s slipping behind a cloud at sunset, the raft awoke en masse. They formed a huge oval before taking off in rows toward the west, away from where I was standing. The blast-off I waited for came in waning light, and into the opposite direction. And still it was worth the wait.

What does autumn look like in your world? Are you open to gifts wrapped in a way you do not expect? If you were to try to photograph a season of reflection and introspection, what images would you choose? How would you photograph patience?


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A particular photograph chronicling Fall 2016: the largest "Jockeys Lake" I have ever seen, after record rainfall with Hurricane Matthew in October.

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Seaside Goldenrod on the dunes is an annual colorful signal of October. This plant is growing in Jockey's Lake, an image of a scene I have never witnessed before.

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I call this "All My Life's A Circle" inspired by the arching cloud and its reflection at Jockey's Lake. See the couple to the left? That's a bride and groom, celebrating a beginning at day's end.

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Here is a personal challenge image, inspired by the phrase "walking in light." I call it, Light My Way.

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Canada Geese are back in our soundfront cove at The Waterfront Shops in Duck.

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For a brief season, the geese were elsewhere, presumably raising goslings. Their return heralds shorter days and earlier nightfalls.

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Percentage wise, more deep red sunsets occur in the low humidity evenings of fall and winter than any other time here. I call this, Follow Your Arrow, as the light pointed True North.

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Tundra Swan are back at Pea Island in large numbers. We've seen only a few so far in Duck. These flew over me while I waited for the Redheads to blast off.

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Finally my asking and waiting paid off. In rapidly disappearing light, the raft of Redheads blasted off into the pink glow of sundown.

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Night, night, ducks. And thank you.

posted by eturek at 10:00 PM

Comments [3]



Tuesday, October 25, 2016
It’s Déjà vu All Over Again – Yogi Berra
After the Outer Banks dried out from a soggy Hurricane Hermine (more like Tropical Storm Hermine by the time it impacted our part of the coast), we had what seemed like an unusual number of cloudy and rainy days in September. Labor Day weekend was a washout, but those of us whose livelihoods depend on visitors in one way or another still had a strong fall to look forward to.

Then along came Hurricane Matthew, not forecast to approach our coast at all, and “only” a Category 1 storm when it did arrive. Who could foresee the widespread damage and flooding—much of it historic—that the Outer Banks would experience? Six plus weeks of rainfall culminating in a record-rain event in Matthew overwhelmed our sandy soil’s ability to absorb any more. Storm drains that likely were clogged with debris after Hermine were unable to handle Matthew’s great volumes of rain, causing unprecedented flooding in neighborhoods usually dry, and higher-than-usual water in other places just beginning to dry out after September. The fact that the storm arrived smack in the middle of Columbus Day weekend, effectively ending the season for businesses that suffered damage or catastrophic loss just made its impact that much greater.

I kept thinking I should drive around, take pictures of all the flooding, but honestly, my heart wasn’t in it. We—meaning my family, and our galleries—had no real damage. Even the power outages were more annoying than debilitating for us. Maybe that helps explain why the impacts suffered by neighbors—residents, homeowners, businesses, hit so hard. It could so easily have been ours, too.

Back in 2011 after Hurricane Irene, and in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy, I found myself in a creative slump. The drought, an uneven mixture of sadness, weariness, and an uncharacteristic apathetic fatalism, needed Nature, both the seeming inflictor of the wound and the victim, to somehow become the healer, to point the way toward beauty once again. I think I said then, my earliest photographic career was as a journalist. The role of reporter, of documenting damage, is an important one. But it is not my heart’s role any longer. I need signposts of beauty and hope. I need to find them, and if necessary, I need to carve them, out of light and shadow, water and air, feathers and fur.

Here are the signposts from the past six weeks or so that have pointed me in the direction of all that is beautiful still. I hope they do for you what they continue to do for me.


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The sea oats were still full after Hermine, and lovely against a sunset sky.

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This juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron was way out of place, hanging out at Outer Banks Pier after Hermine.

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The Canada Geese that winter over in our little cove at The Waterfront Shops in Duck are back in full numbers now. I never did see goslings here this spring.

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This Great Egret was stalking along the shoreline when I asked if it could please stride over by the dock for a photograph. Almost immediately it changed course for this image.

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After Matthew's rainfall ceased, the wind-driven Sound looked more like the ocean.

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I love the full moon in a cloudy sky. This night, I asked for the cloud and light to shape a heart. Then I waited. Here is the gift.

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Both storms kicked up a tremendous amount of foam. That is Avalon Pier in the background.

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This is seafoam in Kitty Hawk after Hermine.

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Sometimes the skies after a storm are the loveliest. Here, I used a Neutral Density filter to slow my shutter speed to allow the motion of the waves to soften.

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I love the pink glow of sunset on the ocean. It doesn't happen all the time, which makes the sight all the more special when it does.

posted by eturek at 12:13 PM

Comments [3]



(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 325653 times

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