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

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

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(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 388507 times

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