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

EVE TUREK'S NATURAL OUTER BANKS
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Just For Fun
What do nature photographers do when they are not being nature photographers? No, I don’t really mean “laundry” – or the many other necessary daily-living sorts of chores that simply have to get done. And I don’t even mean “printing” or processing work. Yes, it is true that most digital photographers I know have assumed responsibility for the entire process of creating a photograph, not just making the initial image in-camera. And I don’t mean what has come to be called “marketing” – all the ways we share our images, whether through direct sales via galleries or shows or online, or by supplying stock photography, or through such vehicles as blogging or social media, all of which I do all during the year.

I mean, what do nature photographers do for fun besides photography? The “besides” is a key word for me. See, photography IS fun. Being in the right place at the right time in amazing light or with birds and critters whose daily life rhythms I get to observe and share…that is a huge fun factor for me. I am grateful every day to be able to spend what time I can outside, and then when I am inside, to share those times by telling the “back stories” of the images.

I mean fun in addition to nature photography. I do have other activities I enjoy, like playing and writing music, or writing in general, or reading. I do like to take long walks although I admit I am more relaxed, not less so, if I carry a camera.

One thing that is fun for me is photography that I engage in strictly for play, in the same way a serious artist might sit down at a table with a grandchild and a coloring book and a box of Crayola’s craziest colors. Now imagine if you put a bunch of serious artists at a table with some kids and some crayons…no telling what might happen!

My favorite writer on creativity and the creative process is Julia Cameron. Her books continue to be a huge influence in my daily, creative life. She encourages regular play for play’s sake…and she says playtime will only enhance our primary artistic outpourings, never diminish or dilute them. I now believe her.

With all that long background, I’ve been trying to play more. Seriously. And I’ve even had company! The photograph of the baby purple martins from the last blog was taken during a photo outing with some fellow members of the OB Region of the Carolinas Nature Photographers Association. But on this particular evening, we weren’t really focusing on nature photography. We were focusing on fun, particularly on fun with light…or lights…in low-light situations. Let me explain.

When the light is low, one way to make a photographic image is to light the scene—to use a flash, for example. But another way is to deliberately open the shutter for a longer time…sometimes for a very long time. This is the technique where magic happens…where the motion of waves or waterfalls gets blurred, suggesting the lapse of time, or where star trails whirl around tree trunks or lighthouses or mountain peaks. Add in other techniques like zooming while the shutter is open and the magic effects intensify. Deliberately create the magic by adding glow lights, sparklers and the like and you get…well, you get what you see below. So dim the lights…and let the play begin…


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Slow shutter speed and zooming the lens at the same time. Effects, unpredictable! That is why this is fun! Avalon Pier from the south side, toward dusk.

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This was my favorite of the under-the-pier series I took. I see all sorts of imagery here.

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This one reminds me of a French Impressionistic impression of the ocean rather than of the ocean itself. My Mom loved the French impressionists, like Monet or Van Gogh. Me too.

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I thought of a blue Christmas ornament, or an elaborate bow with ribbon. Whatever, the fact that it turned out at all was a surprise!

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I call this one, Blue Light Spirograph. Glow-light and an holder, spinning deliberately in a circle. Cameras on tripod. Ready, set, go!

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Last round glowing blueness. I call this Orbit. Lots of these did not turn out at all...focus shifted during exposure (I needed to tighten the plate on the camera bottom that slides into my tripod).

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In some of these, the holder was barely seen and the middle could be darkened enough to remove the distraction of the pale figure. But I liked the image here. I call this Jazz Man. It reminded me of jazz music, somehow.

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"Take me to your leader."

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What happens when you mix steel wool, a wire whisk, creative people, and a lighter? Just like chemistry class...only better. I call this Sparkler.

posted by eturek at 11:21 PM

Comments [5]



Saturday, June 23, 2012
Summertime...
Since my three excursions to Carova between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, I’ve been sticking much closer to home. The busy season means I have less time available to be outdoors, and need to find ways to satisfy my nature-hunger in spurts and smaller doses rather than in the long, leisurely mornings or afternoons of early spring, late fall, or winter.

I took my long lens, my tripod and my hopes out to the soundfront park in Colington, where we live, on the evening of the Venus Transit – the hopes were for some clouds, not too many, just enough. I needed a thin, gauzy layer of cloud to cut the sun’s glare, too harsh for my eyes, my lens, and my camera sensor, in order to see and photograph Venus. A thick blanket of cloud would obscure the event altogether, a fact I’ve learned all too often here when going out for a moonrise. That night the clouds obliged, although the overall effect made the sun look more like the moon than like itself. And there was Venus, a tiny round dot compared with the sun’s disk.

I went to Avalon Pier early in the month, too, just for a little bit in the afternoon. What caught my eye most that day was the way the waves were curling. Evidently the curl had been more defined earlier, since there were some surfers in the water when I walked out but they left fairly quickly as the conditions changed with the tide and the wind.

Speaking of wind, it was windy enough in the middle of the month to keep me—and lots of wishful beach-goers—mostly indoors. Blustery, blowing a gale (not literally, but the steady northeast winds with 30+ gusts felt like it after several days), cranking…I used all these terms before the winds finally shifted and laid down at the end of the week. The bonus from the winds was a week of pretty clouds. The downside included no swimming flags, beach erosion, and stinging sand-blasting sands.

Pete and I did take a ride down to Pea Island last Sunday afternoon as the winds died down and I have a couple of images from there to share below. I usually go tramping about with something, or someone, in mind while staying open to the possibility of encountering something entirely different. On Sunday I went out searching for sea oats. Their blooming every year coincides with the start of summer; their emergence is a perennial summer herald for me. Sure enough, I spotted some not-quite-bursting-open seed heads. I’m glad most of the stalks were still tucked safely within their green sheaves, as the strong northeast winds would have buffeted them earlier in the year than usual!

Meanwhile, all those northeast winds sculpted the dunes and carved away more of the beach. Typically summertime brings sand ashore with prevalent southwest winds (except during hurricanes) while winter northeasters tend to erode the shoreline. A week’s worth of strong northeast wind certainly made the beach look more like November, or February, than early summer.

This past week we experienced increasingly hot and humid (read, summer) weather, and I suspect all the dunes will be sea oat clad within a couple of weeks, just in time for July 4th. The pelicans I see overflying the dunes are forming longer and longer lines now. This is the time of year when baby pelicans have typically hatched and are growing fast. I’m still hoping to get out on the water one morning and show you this year’s baby pelicans. If not, I’ll post some from earlier years. They are too cute to miss!

And speaking of babies, I’ve missed checking on the Bald Eagles of Kitty Hawk as often as I like, but I did go by the nest tree in the morning earlier this month. This is the time of year when the eaglet(s) begin to fly. I saw one eaglet sitting outside the nest on a branch, but had to shoot almost directly into the sun to take its picture. I always say hello; even as babies, eagles are very aware of everything going on around them. I love to make eye contact with the next generation of eagles, and this eaglet and I shared a moment before I had to be on my way. I’m still hoping to get to the nest in the afternoon soon.

Purple Martin babies are getting bigger too and soon the nightly spectacle of tens of thousands of birds, coming from as far away as Raleigh to roost under the old Manns Harbor bridge will begin. The peak of the roosting event, which happens near dusk for several weeks in July and August, is timed between the baby birds fledging and the annual migration south in the fall. I was out the other evening for what turned into a non-event sunset but I did manage to watch and photograph some Purple Martin baby birds vying for their parents’ attention at a birdhouse off Bay Drive in Kill Devil Hills. A couple of friends and I have commented that we think we are seeing more purple martins in late afternoon or early morning overflying our houses; we all speculated that perhaps the additional numbers of mosquitoes, courtesy of all the flooding from Hurricane Irene last year, is drawing more birds. Popular thinking is, mosquitoes are their primary diet. Actually, purple martins eat all sorts of flying insects, not just mosquitoes. Thanks, google, for setting me straight about that!

All these bits and pieces from the last couple of weeks are below. As always, enjoy!



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That little black dot is the planet Venus, transiting the sun. I'm so glad for the clouds that allowed me to take the photograph, even if they did make the sun look like the moon.

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Photographing from the pier let me look down the length of the wave curl.

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Regular readers know how much I love clouds. These were wild!! They were a foretaste of the windy weather to come.

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For nearly a week, the beach looked and felt more like late fall than late spring.

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The northeast winds created these beautiful rippled patterns in the dunes on Pea Island.

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Another view of the Pea Island dunes, this one with some ocean as a backdrop.

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All those artsy patterns were a bonus. Here is what my heart came to find: the first sea oats of the season.

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This line of pelicans is half the length of the one I saw--but couldn't get to the camera in time to photograph--just this afternoon.

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Eaglet, 2012. I hope that Eaglets don't think it disrespectful if I call them "baby" -- as in, Hi, Baby. Welcome to the world.

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Speaking of babies...mama mama mama! Mosquitoes seem a pretty meager diet for these hungry mouths! In fact, a google search reveals that purple martins eat all sorts of flying insects, not just mosquitoes.

posted by eturek at 9:02 PM

Comments [1]



Sunday, June 3, 2012
Seeing Red
I’ve said this here before: one blessing about being a nature photographer/naturalist is that folks tell you things and show you things and ask you things. Another blessing is getting to know other nature photographers, especially those whose hearts match your own.

One such photographer for me is Jared Lloyd. Jared grew up on the Outer Banks when it was a lot wilder than it is now, and he still lives fulltime in the 4wd area of Carova. He also travels to other locations both as a nature photographer and as a photography workshop leader; his eye is amazing, his knowledge even more so, and his love and passion for the places he photographs is unsurpassed. I’ll post a link to his website at the end of this blog if anyone would like to see more of his work or learn more about his workshops or individual instruction.

I’ve had a lifelong fascination with foxes, ever since I saw my first wild red fox as a youngster growing up in rural Virginia. That fox ran across the front of my neighbor’s property; it was the first wild animal (beyond a squirrel) I had ever seen. Its red coat flashed in the sunlight. I looked often but never saw another fox until many years later in eastern North Carolina.

I’ve followed fox tracks atop Jockey’s Ridge and pointed out abandoned den holes while volunteering as a summer program leader there ten summers ago, but never saw any actual foxes. We have a family of gray foxes that live around Yellowhouse. We see the Mama especially at this time of year when she is pregnant or has young kits and have been fortunate to see her babies more than once in our seven seasons in the gallery. I’ve spotted one at distance a couple times near the Wright Memorial and seen one years ago on 64 near Columbia. Most of these are gray foxes. Gray foxes do have quite a bit of russet in their fur, but they differ from red foxes in that they share both feline and canine characteristics. Gray foxes can climb trees and have the sort of slit eyes that cats have, which help them see well in the dark.

Carova, the four wheel drive area north of Corolla which is famous for its population of wild horses, also has a population of red foxes. I’ve seen fox tracks there in the dunes: foxes walk in a straight line, putting hind feet in the same spot where their front feet have touched. Dogs walk nothing like this, bounding and meandering all over the place! Fox-walking is a term I use inwardly when I want to remind myself to stay true to my heart’s purpose, harkening back to this habit of single-file tracks. My favorite fox track photograph, other than the one I have from Ray Matthews which he took atop Jockey’s Ridge, is one I took in Carova in February 2011 after a dusting of snow.

When I learned last year that Jared was monitoring the red fox population in Carova, I arranged to learn more from him. It took a whole year for our schedules to work out. (I’ll post a link to his website at the end of this blog if anyone would like to see more of his work or learn more about his workshops or individual instruction.)

Sometimes nature photography is all about serendipity. I’ll go to the ocean, drawn by a feeling, thinking “pelicans” and receive the gift of dolphin. Sometimes it is all about planning and I suspect that most of the time for me it is about both. It does help to know something about the area, the patterns of behavior of critters or birds—and that is where someone like Jared can help. (Or like me, in some cases; ask me about pelicans!)

Pete and I went to Carova after closing the gallery Memorial Day Monday. We were enchanted to see a mama red fox and a total of five kits at one time, frolicking about the dunes. We also saw a little bunny nearby! Here at Yellowhouse, the foxes and bunnies have co-existed for years; I have never seen any fur in any of the fox scat I have found (but plenty of persimmon seeds and sea oat seedheads, once they bloom.) I hope the same is true in Carova.

We also saw a Canada Goose who was walking in circles at the edge of the waves, looking lost; and a snowy egret, also walking at the wave’s edge, in exactly the same place where I photographed one seven years ago (very near the on ramp).

But the red fox kits stole the whole show. They looked like puppies, scampering after each other, biting each other’s paws and facing off as if nipping at each other’s noses, though they didn’t. Our 10-y-o Westie, Mikey and our 18-month-old Sheltie, Kaylee, do exactly the same thing as they play. We watched one attack a small stick; we watched two play some combination of hide and seek and peek-a-boo, all with a “gotcha!” as the end maneuver. We could have easily watched them for another hour but wanted to be back on paved roads before dark. On our way back to the on/off ramp, we saw a small group of horses but the light was too low to get clear images, hand-holding my long lens. As we began the drive back south, two small gray foxes darted across the road well in front of our truck, completing our wild adventures.
Bits and pieces of all of this are below.
For more information on Jared Lloyd’s work , workshops, and individual instruction, you can visit his website at http://jaredlloydphoto.com/


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Right after we drove onto the sand, I spotted this snowy egret. I photographed one in this exact spot in 2005! I wonder if it could be the same bird. Snowy egrets can live 15+ years so the chances are excellent.

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A little further north, we saw this Canada Goose, looking lost and lonesome. It was still there on our return trip back down the beach.

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Our first spotting of foxes! Mama and several babies were on top of the dune.

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Race-chase is a fun game my dogs play. Apparently the red foxes enjoy it too.

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The young kit foxes would wander or race down the dune but never stray too far from their Mama. She came down after one small kit fox that did not follow its siblings back up to the top.

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Mama! There you are!

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Although we saw five kit foxes at one time, they were so spread out I could get only three or two at a time in one picture. I love this one; big yawn!

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Not too far away and apparently unconcerned was this bunny.

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Meanwhile, the longer we sat in the truck, the more acclimated the kit foxes became. Now playtime began in earnest.

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As the evening shadows began to lengthen, the kit foxes drew close to one of their den entrances. They sat or laid down at the den mouth, and then darted off for some new adventure a few feet away. Good night, foxes. Thank you.

posted by eturek at 10:13 PM

Comments [6]



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