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EVE TUREK'S NATURAL OUTER BANKS
Monday, September 18, 2017
Optics
Optics. I think of the word first as a photographer, and in terms of lenses, either on camera or in binoculars. Next I reach backwards nearly 40 years to my first career as a reporter and public information officer, when the word was shorthand for how some decision, policy or action would appear to the collective public mind.

This past month, between the partial solar eclipse we had here on August 21, and our own wild skies as Irma made its first inroads into Florida on September 10, optics assumed a different meaning—the first given to the word by Merriam-Webster. Here it is:

"a science that deals with the genesis and propagation of light, the changes that it undergoes and produces, and other phenomena closely associated with it."

We had plenty of “the changes light undergoes and produces” the past few weeks, enough to devote a whole blog simply to those optics.

First, the eclipse. Thanks to a friend’s generosity, I had a pair of safety eyeglasses to wear to protect my own vision while photographing. Now for my camera sensor. I did not buy a special solar filter, especially since we were not having a total eclipse here. After a bit of reading I concluded I would do fine with the filters I already had, and I put both an 8 stop neutral density and a circular polarizer on my 28-300mm lens. Both of those are used to reduce the light coming into the lens without distorting color, and I needed plenty of light reduction in order to aim my lens directly at the sun, even with it obscured nearly 90%. That percentage wasn’t enough to produce a ring of fire or to plunge my surroundings into deep shadow, but there was an almost imperceptible dimming, and all the birds went suddenly silent. I also had my ISO set low, my aperture set to its smallest diameter—and I dialed in plenty of negative exposure compensation. All those choices let me photograph the sun, but completely obscured anything else that might have been in the frame.

I had earlier decided that I would go to Duck Church for the eclipse, and positioned myself on the front deck aiming up past the white steeple. As soon as I screwed on my filters, I realized the cross would not show in any image if I used the dark filters. I quickly removed them and made some photographs of the cross in bright sunlight. Then I put the filters back on and waited for the eclipse, intending to composite the two images later—one showing the cross and one showing the eclipse above it. With my glasses on, I couldn’t see the cross either, and the glasses made it tricky to photograph and focus the actual sun disk, but I managed. Looking through the glasses, the sun appeared to be pumpkin orange but still registered bright white by my camera’s sensor.

The final image combines the minutes-earlier cross photograph with the eclipse itself. What I couldn’t see with my glasses was the way the sun rays extended outward, a detail my camera sensor recorded. Several images I made before the eclipse occurred included sun flare, since I was aiming up and the cross was nearly backlit.

Fast forward to Hurricane Irma and I got a phone call from another friend telling me to go outside and look up. I had just driven to Harris Teeter; the vantage point let me have unobscurred skies for the largest, most vibrant and dramatic sun halo I had ever seen.

After I photographed the halo in empty skies I wondered if I could do something similar to the eclipse photo. This time I drove to Kitty Hawk Methodist Church. For the eclipse, I needed a light steeple, and Duck’s white wooden one worked beautifully. But for the sun halo, a darker steeple would be better, and Kitty Hawk had just what I needed. After I processed several of the Kitty Hawk images, I realized one of them had a heart shape bright spot extending into the cloud from the sun’s central disk.

Years ago, I photographed a phenomenon called a circumzenithal arc—an upside-down rainbow that appears only briefly, when the sun is at 22 degrees above the horizon, and the clouds are just right for the refraction needed to throw a rainbow overhead.

I wondered if the halo would persist into the late afternoon and whether the arc would appear. Google told me that the timeframe for the sun being at the right angle would be between 5 and 5 pm at my location, so I went to Colington’s soundfront park to wait. The halo was still visible but much dimmer. I kept looking up but saw no arc.

Suddenly, in literally the blink of an eye, there it was! A bright, upside down rainbow, arching over the sun halo. I had seen some photographs of the two together from Alaska, but never photographed them together before myself. Within less than a minute the angle had changed and the arc faded to blue sky again. I am so grateful to have been present and ready to witness its appearing. Again, when I processed, the moving clouds created another heart shape in the center.

Then, as if all that wasn’t enough, we had a bright double rainbow over the Waterfront Shops in Duck just as I was closing SeaDragon at 7 pm the other evening!

All these wonderful optics are below for you to enjoy.      


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One of the first images, pre-eclipse, at Duck Church.

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Aiming a lens in the general direction of the sun, or any other bright light source, can cause flare--usually avoided by photographers. Here I rather like it, and I titled the image, The Call of Light.

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A Crow came for a brief visit just before the eclipse got underway. I know they have a bad rep -- I always see them as a herald of direction and felt assured I was in the right place.

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My final composite -- max eclipse and the Duck Church steeple, photographed before the eclipse began. I call the image Light In The Darkness.

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Here is my first view of the sun halo, from the parking lot of the Harris Teeter in Kitty Hawk--which is to say, glory can happen anywhere, in an instant.

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About 30 minutes later at Kitty Hawk United Methodist Church. See the bright heart?

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At the Colington Harbour soundfront park as the sun was setting, conditions were perfect for a "sky smile" which is what I like to call the upside down rainbow circumzenithal arc.

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Last of all, the double rainbow--a double blessing--at the end of a busy work day in Duck.

posted by eturek at 6:05 PM

Comments [1]



Sunday, July 23, 2017
Lucky or Led?
Am I lucky or am I led?

Folks often say to me, while viewing my images, you were in the right place at the right time. And I agree! I tell them what I say in virtually every presentation I give:
Being in the right place at the right time has become a lifestyle rooted in gratitude.
I say, I am in the right place at the right time, as intention, and in prayer. I ask to be led. I ask to be sensitive to those little nudgings that say, here, there, now. And then I say, in gratitude, I AM in the right place at the right time! It happened again! So my “please” turns into “thank you” and “thank You.”

You see, I don’t believe I am in this photographic life alone. I do believe I am more than lucky—I believe I am being led. What’s more, I believe the experiences I have, of being in the right place at the right time, of finding unique images meant for me to have and to share, are available to anyone who seeks and asks. I really do believe it is that simple…and that hard. Seeking and asking inevitably involves waiting and wondering. And then, all at once, that waiting and wondering reaps its reward.

Last week I had to run a quick errand after dinner to pick up extra credit card machine tape, so I would have it first thing in the morning. The timing of my need coincided with this brightening glow in the sky to the east. The sun was beginning to sink in the western sky but the clouds had not picked up a lot of color yet. The white glow intensified in the east and I decided I just had to go look. I pulled into a beach access that wasn’t too crowded and heard in my mind this thought: it will wait for you.

Good thing, because I had my longest lens attached in my case, and needed to switch to wide angle, which I did. By the time I walked up and over the crosswalk the glow had faded. The sun was more obscured by the clouds than it had been earlier. But I had those words in my mind and heart, so I waited. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the sun broke through the clouds in the west and I turned back to the ocean to witness the brightest and most glorious anti-crepuscular rays I have ever seen. What a dull name for such a beautiful sight! These are sunrays that stretch all across the sky and appear on the opposite horizon from where the sun actually is. Regular readers know the phenomenon from my sharing here before. But never have I seen them like this. Right place, right time, and willingness to wait provided a spectacular gift.

Speaking of patience, I checked on the Sunset Beach Grille osprey nest in Duck recently. At 7:53 a.m. I could see Mom clearly and movement below her that told me there was at least one baby osprey resting. At 8:06 a.m. it lifted its head. And then the real waiting began. At 9:10 a.m. Papa flew by with a fish, showing the family his catch, before landing on a nearby dock and proceeding to eat his breakfast, all while his mate and babies were calling out to him to hurry and bring breakfast home! Cruel behavior? Not at all! Hungry babies will eat more heartily, and soon that same hunger will propel them skyward on their first flights, ready to learn their survival lessons of how to fish for themselves. A little waiting turns out to be a very good thing. But oh, it can be hard to do! Finally at 9:22 a.m., Dad finished his meal and flew to the nest with the remains for the family. He then proceeded to fly down to the water and repeatedly dip his talons, presumably to wash them, before flying out of sight. By then, after 90 minutes at the nest, I was hungry too, and treated myself to breakfast at the Sunset Grille. I think I enjoyed my omelet as much as the baby osprey enjoyed their fishy breakfast, made all the sweeter for the waiting.

I wait all winter and spring for our sea oats to rebloom and finally they have emerged! Hotter and drier conditions favor bigger crops. When we have a damp late spring, they tend to be sparser and later blooming. I always rejoice to see them. Our dunes look loveliest when they are wearing their full coats of grasses. The same day I photographed the sea oats in early July, we had dramatic deep blue skies over the ocean just before dinner. The bluest blues make the greenest green waters, as you will see below.

As I photographed and watched the light, I had two experiences that confirmed, first, that I was in the right place at the right time, and second, that waiting pays off! Dragonflies were flying ashore, not by the hundreds as I witnessed earlier in the spring, but in enough numbers for me to notice—and finally to photograph. A little later, the light conditions were perfect for one of my favorite visuals, rainbows in the wave spray. Both made a perfect end to a beautiful afternoon.

What are you waiting for? Is it worth the wait?















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No, not sunrise. SunSET. Sun is setting behind me to the west. So where did these sun rays over the ocean come from?

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Here is what the sunset actually looked like. Swirling, dramatic clouds.

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At least one baby osprey at the Sunset Grille in Duck nest.

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Make that two babies...and we are hungry!

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Papa Osprey to the rescue, with breakfast!

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Ah, sea oats. Now it's summer!

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If you look closely at the right and left sides of this photograph, you will see two dragonflies, just arriving on the Outer Banks from their Atlantic flight.

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Deep blue skies, bright green water -- it almost looks fake! But I assure you, these were fabulous light conditions. So glad I was out there!

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I love the texture of a wave curling.

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See the rainbow in the wave spray? Worth the wait for the light to be at just the right angle.

posted by eturek at 3:29 PM

Comments [7]



Friday, June 30, 2017
Bear With Me
Why do you go outside? It’s summer – it’s hot, it’s humid, it’s buggy. It’s winter – it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s raw. That is one point of view. One way of seeing the world.

Here is another: It’s beautiful. It’s wondrous, full of surprises. It’s invigorating, it’s calming. It offers metaphoric messages of gratitude and possibility, of growth and change.

You know why I go outside. I live by the second world view and I go outside to remind myself of all that is true and beautiful, and to (hopefully) have experiences in the natural world that have spiritual overtones and that I can share with others, either in word or image or both.

Back when I was getting a Masters in Environmental Education from Prescott University, through their distance program, I wrote a paper entitled “The I In Inquiry.” One aspect of Prescott’s philosophy I loved is that we are connected to nature in a way that can enrich both humanity and the natural world. We are not meant to hold ourselves aloof as dispassionate observers or researchers or consumers of natural resources. That philosophy runs contrary to lots of scientific thought, but is more in keeping with indigenous mindsets that somehow find ways to both benefit from nature while honoring and giving back. It is a philosophy that suits my personality perfectly.

One way to honor is to offer shared experiences, and I had a wonderful opportunity recently to introduce grandson Pat to the black bear of Alligator River Refuge. Honor and respect also means keeping a safe distance and we did that, carrying my long lens and keeping near our vehicle while watching parents and cubs. Pete and I went over a week or so later and saw one or two grown bears fairly close to the road, but the experience of cubs in the trees was reserved for the next generation. This was my first time to watch cubs climb (boy, are they fast!), balance on tree limbs and nap. Wondrous, indeed. We also visited the Elizabeth II site, walked Coquina, and climbed Bodie Light.

Speaking of Bodie Light, fellow photographer Ray Matthews and I spent a few hours after dark seeking the Milky Way at the Bodie Island lighthouse recently. I usually can sweet-talk mosquitoes out of biting, but I admit to being swarmed repeatedly while we were out by the marsh. The next morning revealed only one actual mosquito bite but my uncovered hands and neck were spotted with small red non-itching bites. From Jared Lloyd’s experience, I think I was actually bitten by no-see-ums or midges. Happily, the bugs don’t transmit diseases to humans (and happily, my bites don’t itch although they appear rather alarming en masse). I reckon I better learn to sweet talk midges next or I will have to resort to bug spray, something I try to avoid. Why don’t I spray? Over the years I have had the repeated experience of not spraying, and instead asking permission of the bugs around to pass, unscathed. It almost always works. The key for me is asking in a loving and respectful way. I am entering their domain, their home, and I try to be a good and faithful guest. It all goes back to worldview. Midges or not, I believe it’s a wondrous, beautiful world.


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The smallest cub climbed the highest.

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Cuteness is best viewed with binoculars or long lenses.

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That goes double for watching big papa bears! Of course I did have to tell him thank you, and we love you.

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Pete and I saw this bear running down the road from where we were.

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I have only photographed this phenomenon once before successfully. Do pelicans ever drag their wingtips? Yes they do.

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Grandson Pat and I watched a pair of Oyster Catchers at Coquina.

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Of course I am always on the lookout for hearts.

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I love photographing cross currents, although their presence can signal dangerous rip currents.

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Here is a slice of the Milky Way at Bodie Light.

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This is purely playful! Hyperspace (for Star Wars fans) or Warp Speed (for Trekkies) at Bodie Light!

posted by eturek at 2:10 PM

Comments [6]



Saturday, May 27, 2017
May Days
Several folks have asked about the Colington osprey and how they are doing.

Once the Colington marina new nest platform was in place, the osprey pair quickly began building a rudimentary nest and within a few days, the female was sitting on the nest while her mate dutifully brought more sticks and fish. Eggs typically hatch within 6-7 weeks, but as of Memorial Day Saturday, I still could not see any baby in the nest, and an adult was no longer staying on the nest fulltime. Perhaps there is a young chick too small to be seen yet. I won’t know for sure until another couple of weeks goes by. I hope they nested successfully but it may be that their nesting late thwarted their efforts and we will have to wait another year for babies.

Meanwhile, the Kitty Hawk eagles nested again this year and I have had one glimpse of at least one eaglet. The day I was there, I could never get a clear angle for a photograph of the baby but I did witness two crows harassing the parent eagle. The aerial acrobatics were amazing to watch.

In early May Pete and I made a quick day trip over to Washington NC to pick up some pottery for both galleries. A couple of old homesteads on the way caught my attention and I will share one of those below.

I just concluded co-leading a three day photo workshop that was based at the Sanderling Resort in Duck. One benefit of teaching is that I have the chance to be outdoors photographing while instructing my students. The two mornings we got up in the dark in order to be on the beach at first light revealed an entire ghost crab village in front of the resort! I relished the challenge of trying to photograph scurrying crabs in low light; a high ISO helps here. Meanwhile, the ghost crabs would run towards the wave wash, hunker down, and let the water run over them. I saw only one crab act as if it were eating something. At first I worried the waves would overpower them, but I would see their little eye stalks sticking up as they swished and swirled and came to rest in a new spot. It was easy to imagine they were playing in the surf and enjoying it as much as we do.

Both mornings, the sun rose in an essentially clear sky, with little to reflect the color. I taught my students to look down into the wave wash for patterns of texture and color and to find their vibrancy there. Later, fellow instructor Chuck Almarez from VA taught the class how to create mandalas and twirls from their photographs; I will include an example so you can see what I mean. Fun. Workshop coordinator and our third instructor Nancy Sander brought props for the group to practice with; I found her hourglass compelling enough to use for what I hope is an emotional image that tells a different story than The Homestead does about time passing.

After the official workshop concluded those who were staying longer in the area got the treat of a private horse tour with Rick Romano of Corolla Outback Adventures. A Corolla resident, Rick shared his love and knowledge of the herd with us. As we expected, the May flies were out and the horses sought some relief at the water’s edge. More fun to watch than the flies were the dragonflies that came up the beach in huge swarms the second afternoon we were at the Sanderling. I am so glad the students had the chance to experience a Dragonfly Migration Day. I will share some of our horse tour photos and perhaps some additional workshop images in the next blog.

For Memorial Day weekend, as we play in the sun, picnic, go to the pool or beach or lake, or gather with friends and family for a cookout, let us pause and remember those whose sacrifice gives us the opportunity to enjoy such simple pleasures in freedom.


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There seemed to be a dense congregation of ghost crabs right in front of the Sanderling. I imagine eating is as good on the beach here as in the restaurant!

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See those eyestalks in back? Wave after wave would wash over them...

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...and they would keep coming back for more. When the sun rose they scurried back to their holes to rest.

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Here, Henry, the male, brings a fish to his mate Grace. She flew off with it while he settled down in the nest, presumably incubating eggs.

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This Bald Eagle pulled some fancy aerobatic maneuvers to outrun these harassing crows.

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Eastern Carolina character in an old homestead.

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Another view of time passing.

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Rick Romano and Corolla Outback Adventures give a great tour!

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The intense, vibrant glow and patterns in the wave wash got my full attention at sunrise.

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Here is the mandala and the swirl I created from the sand pattern photograph, above.

posted by eturek at 1:07 PM

Comments [4]



Wednesday, April 12, 2017
A Love Story
Those of you who don’t like the Hallmark Channel, where romances typically undergo a rough period and smooth out just in time for a happily-ever-after ending probably won’t enjoy this blog.

For more years than I can recall, I have watched the Colington Harbour osprey return each spring, raise a family of young osprey, and fly south in the fall, only to repeat the cycle the next year.

Twenty years ago, as Pete and I got married and settled into our own daily lives, a cousin of Pete’s—Karen Watras—came to stay with my aging, ill parents. We all lived in Colington Harbour less than five minutes from one another and from the osprey pair who had taken up nesting on a light pole in the harbor’s marina parking lot. Karen, who loved osprey before she came to Colington, christened the pair Grace and Henry. She had more time to watch them than I did in the early years of my marriage, and I learned a lot about the pair from her.

Henry was—and remains—a devoted lifelong mate and osprey daddy. While most osprey share the duties of nest building and incubation, Henry is more involved than most. He nearly always finds something special to decorate the nest—one year it was police tape; one year, construction tape. Sometimes we see remnants of bulkhead filter cloth, flags, pennants, rope, or netting. I began to joke that the pair has a fabric fetish. Every year they would arrive within a few days of one another, often either on Karen’s birthday or anniversary, both of which are in mid-March. Karen and I both have photographed the pair and documented their lives over the past twenty years. The two of them are older, as we are. Every year we hold our breath that both will make the long journey from their winter grounds—likely in Central or South America—safely back to their summer home in Colington.

This year, when I went to the marina to see if either had arrived yet, what I noticed first was that their nest was missing. I don’t mean that the sticks they carefully place every March and April had blown away in winter winds. I mean the entire platform had been removed from its light-pole setting, where it had rested securely for more than 20 years. I hope you can imagine my shock when I learned that the former manager had directed its removal, perhaps in ignorance of the migratory patterns of osprey. The nest was not abandoned, any more than a house can be said to have no children when they are merely in school. I talked to association staff, officials, and a wildlife agent with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Eventually all the phone calls bore fruit, and the association president (who was out of town when the nest platform was taken down) as well as the chairman of the board contacted Dominion NC Power, asking if they could set a new pole nearby for the osprey.

Meanwhile, Grace arrived first. If you think I was startled by seeing no nest, imagine how she must have felt. Not only do osprey mate for life, often remaining unmated if one of the pair dies an untimely death, but they return to the exact same nest year after year. Once Henry also arrived, the pair began to try to balance sticks on their old light pole home. Of course the sticks simply fell off. Next, they flew to an old climbing tower in the soundfront park and playground that is adjacent to the parking lot. With its slick, sloping roof, the tower was not much better as a permanent home.

Meanwhile, Dominion NC Power graciously agreed to donate manpower and a pole, having replaced an older pole nearby. Colington maintenance personnel built a sturdy platform and affixed it atop the pole, and the power crew set the pole on Tuesday morning.

Now the big question was, would the pair spot the new platform, and abandon their attempts to nest atop the tower? I admit, I called out to Grace several times in the days before the new pole arrived, telling her a new home was coming. I also prayed. The old hymn—and Scripture—asserts God’s eye is on the sparrow. I reckon God cares equally for osprey.

The next afternoon, the president of the association called to tell me the pair had been at the new nest site all day. The pull to return to the vicinity of their old home was so strong, they began nest building less than 24 hours after the pole was in place.

Now the pair has a sturdy new home, and boaters who reportedly had been disturbed by the nest’s proximity to their docks have no reason to complain. Thanks to the quick and generous work of Dominion NC Power, all is well that ends well.

This is one of those times I am grateful to be a photographer. The fact I had a multitude of images over many years showing the same pair, building their nest, raising their young, and struggling to do the same this year without their nest site in place helped tell their story to community officials and ultimately resulted in Dominion’s efforts to give the pair a new home. Those images would not have been possible for me in my film days, because the lenses I had then were not long enough to give sharply focused images of wildlife or birds from a distance. Having telephoto lenses in my lens kit helped me tell their story, and ultimately helped me advocate for them.

I’ve recently learned about a new camera technology from a company called, aptly, Light. https://light.co/camera       Its camera bodies look like the smallest compact cameras, but boast up to 16 different camera modes that purport to replicate a variety of lenses, from close-ups to wide-angle to telephoto. I haven’t seen one in person, much less tried it out, but I am always intrigued with how computing technology makes bigger results out of smaller packages possible.

When Pete and I married and I began paying closer attention to Grace and Henry 20 years ago, digital photography was still in the future. Eventually we bought a point-and-shoot that had all of 2 megapixels and could not stop any action. Today, I carry a 20 megapixel Nikon body and an extremely heavy telephoto lens (either a 400mm or a 600mm). Who knows? Ten years from now when that lens may be impossible for me to tote around, you might find me carrying a Light camera and obtaining amazing results!

The bottom line is, you never know what your photography might do, today, or years from now. You may not realize today what an impact your photograph might have tomorrow. The important thing is to get in touch with what inspires you, learn all you can about your craft, and make images. Grace and Henry would surely agree.


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Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Wonder if that is true for osprey? They don't spend the winter together but return to the same nest to mate every spring.

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Here is Grace in 2014, coming back to the nest.

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I usually see them first in this pine tree near the marina.

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Here they are a year later. Grace, like all females, has more speckling on her breast than her mate does.

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This image always makes me laugh. Here is Henry, with a young osprey, presumably calling out for Grace. Yes, osprey dads babysit!

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It is the male's job to bring fish for his mate, and the young osprey.

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Grace, waiting for Henry, and at this moment in mid-March, homeless.

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Henry tried valiantly to bring sticks for a nest atop the tower, but they kept sliding off.

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Dominion NC Power and Colington Harbour maintenance staff to the rescue!

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Now we just have to wait for the babies to arrive!

posted by eturek at 11:35 PM

Comments [9]



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