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

Thursday, January 30, 2014
Let It Snow...
A few times every summer, I get to have a little fun with newer visitors to the Outer Banks who ask me what our winters are like. Oh it’s brutal, I say. Gets really cold, I say. Temperatures in the 40’s, and that can last four, even five days in a row! I say. Then we all laugh.

Then I tell them more seriously that winter nor’easters aren’t much fun, and that even 40 degrees with a whipping 25+ mph sustained northeast wind feels raw and bone-chilling. I also tell them that our winter weather typically fluctuates with some days feeling much more like spring, with temperatures in the upper 50’s or 60’s, and that while we might have a couple of cold spells with temperatures below freezing, those don’t last long. Inevitably they ask one more question: does it ever snow here?

By now my little joke is long over, and I explain that while it does sometimes snow, we have years where there is no snowfall at all, and that what snow we do get usually doesn’t last more than a day, if that. We don’t usually get much accumulation, and the salt in the air helps it melt fairly quickly.

This year the joke is on us, apparently. Pete told me yesterday that he heard this snow rivals that of 1989—a snow firmly etched in his memory because his daughter got married that next weekend, with temperatures warm enough to be overdressed in a suit jacket, but in the meantime he had to shovel multiple driveways for all the out of town family who came in on the heels of the blizzard itself! My biggest snow memories date back a decade earlier to the 1979-80 winter, when Dare County’s power and emergency services communications went out, and HAM radio operators picked up the slack for emergency workers.

The snowstorm of January 22 was mostly an ice storm with a little snow atop. We were treated to an amazing sunset by the next day, with fire-in-the-sky reds and oranges right at the horizon and pinks stretching high overhead. I went soundside for that sunset and am glad I did. This week’s snow began as a “wintry mix” which left quite a bit of ice underneath a good six inches or more of snow for Dare County north of Oregon Inlet. Wind drifts were higher in places.

I realized again yesterday something I had forgotten: one thing I love about snowfall is that, when the storm is over, the snow softens and rounds everything, beveling every sharp edge, covering the brown leaves or fallen branches in the woods, transforming the world into a seemingly gentler place. Yes, we have to shovel, clear paths and spread sand or salt. We have to be extra careful walking or driving. But there is magic in snowfall, too, if we can look with a child’s delight for even a minute. As I write this, the neighborhood kids are enjoying their second day in a row sledding down the street where I live, on what passes for a moderate hill in these flatlands. Gleeful whoops echo loud enough to set my dogs barking. But earlier this morning when I took them out for our first excursion, the air was completely still. The snow muffled ordinary noises, so the auditory experience of a hush matched the visual softness. At that moment, all my senses took a deep, cold, cleansing breath. That’s a long way around to say that for all of snow’s downside, and we will all hear plenty of legitimate thoughts about that, there is an upside too. As with most things. My own upside, expressed visually, is below. Enjoy.

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Here is Coquina on January 22, after our dusting of snow. I took this in late morning. Really pretty light on the dunes and waves.

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Here is the same general spot January 29, in late afternoon. Much more snow, much less light. We still had overcast skies and the temperature was in the mid-20s at this point.

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A week ago, I found the trees along the entrance road to Bodie Light prettier than the lighthouse itself. The wind had left the tree trunks etched in white and the sun was out. There was not much snow at the lighthouse.

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Yesterday, there was plenty of snow still left at the lighthouse in late afternoon. No sunshine though.

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Last week on January 23 we still had ice at the edges of the sound, and the sunset was amazing. I cropped this vertically to show the range of colors and shades from the horizon looking up.

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I switched to a closer focused perspective to show this tree and the ice around it against the sunset sky. Sunsets, like sunrises, don't stay static. The colors and patterns keep changing.

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Speaking of ice… I call this Fire and Ice. The ice storm we had last week coupled with the wind left interesting ice formations.

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As the snow was still falling yesterday morning, after I walked the dogs I went back out into our yard. I was looking for snow hearts! And I found these…or they found me.

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For a very little while, the sky got a tad bit brighter yesterday afternoon as the cloud cover thinned right where the sun was. Some beach accesses had much more snow than others, depending on dune shape and orientation to the wind.

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Looking north toward the end of Nags Head Pier.

posted by eturek at 11:45 AM

Comments [3]

Sunday, January 26, 2014
Amazing Award for one of my photographs
We interrupt our usual blog which focuses on Outer Banks nature in real time to share some incredible news.

One of my photographs entitled Mediation, which I took in January last year at Lake Mattamuskeet in fog, has just won a gold medal in the landscape category in the first World Photographic Cup. I did not even know about the WPC, or the selection process, until I got a phone call earlier in the week telling me I had won.

For those who don't mind my long detailed stories (insert laughing smiley here), I will post the full version below. For those who prefer the bottom line, here it is: international Olympic-style photograph competition based on merit, long process to qualify, international judges who did not know name or country of photographer, and I won gold.

I was sent a slide from the awards ceremony (which I did not know about either) and I will post that below.

Back to my regular blog which will have wintertime Outer Banks very soon!


As the world gears up for the 2014 Winter Olympics, an international photographic competition has just concluded with 22 countries participating in six categories. Yellowhouse Gallery owner Eve Turek’s photograph Meditation was chosen by an international panel of 15 professional photographer jurors as Team USA’s Gold Medal winner in the World Photographic Cup’s Landscape Category. Incredibly, Turek did not know her image had even been selected to compete until after the Professional Photographers Association (PPA) announced the winners at their annual convention in Phoenix, AZ in mid-January.

Turek’s image had already won a prestigious “Loan Collection” award from PPA earlier this year.       Those award winners were also entered in PPA’s Grand Imaging Award competition, unbeknownst to Turek, and she won another award there. Grand Imaging Award winners were then considered for entry into the World Photographic Cup.

Turek photographed a tree line in Lake Mattamuskeet on a foggy January morning a year ago. “I got up well before dark to participate in a local photo outing to photograph the sunrise at Lake Mattamuskeet. I was imagining golds and oranges and pinks, but there was no color in the sky or water at all. The fog obscured everything. Eventually there was enough light to photograph by, and I was mesmerized by these trees in the lake and the fog. The fog turned out to be the gift,” she said.

The World Photographic Cup was created as a joint effort between PPA, the largest nonprofit photographic association in the world with 26,000 members from North America and beyond, and The Federation of European Photographers (FEP). FEP represents 33 member associations in 29 European Countries and is Europe’s leading professional photographer association. The PPA website says the World Photographic Cup’s “singular goal is to unite photographers in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.’”       That mindset fits well with Turek’s photographic and personal philosophies.

“I’ve been puzzling for some time now about the language of photography. We say that cinematographers make movies, and writers tell stories, but photography’s terms are different. We say we “take” pictures or “capture” moments or “shoot” babies or birds or weddings. There is a kind of assumption, even arrogance, in those terms that doesn’t fit for me. I think of photography with profound gratitude. I think of how many times I have felt led to or invited within a scene or an encounter. I go out with my camera and my “please” and “thank you.” On my best days, I receive. I am gifted and graced with amazing moments that I then, thanks to this medium, am privileged to not only witness, but to share. I don’t want to ever take this beautiful world for granted. Gratitude keeps me grounded. I hope I am a photographer for the rest of my life, but I also hope I never “take” another picture.”

Only three images in each of six categories—Portrait, Wedding, Commercial, Illustrative, Reportage/Photojournalistic and Landscape—could be entered per country into the World Photographic Cup. Out of all of PPA’s Grand Imaging Award winners, Turek’s Meditation was one of the three chosen to represent the United States in the Landscape category.

As each participating nation could enter a maximum of three images per category, there were up to 66 entrants for each of the six categories. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals were awarded in each category. Not only were individuals recognized, but the number of overall medals received determined which country took home the honor of the World Photographic Cup, with the highest tally of medal honors. Gold medalists received five points; Silver medalists, three; and Bronze medalists, one. Turek’s photograph was Team USA’s only Gold Medal winner, and helped propel the United States to win the overall medal count and the World Photographic Cup title.
The fifteen judges were all professional photographers with prior judging experience from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal and the United States. Judges did not know any photographer’s name or country represented during the judging process, and were not in communication with one another during the actual voting.

Turek received the news in a phone call from PPA Headquarters in Atlanta.

“I was overwhelmed,” Turek said. “I actually had to go online and read more about the competition so I could fully appreciate the honor. I joined PPA originally because I wanted to grow as a photographer. I like the fact that their competitions are based on a set of technical and creative criteria, rather than as subjective contests. I am very grateful to have my work even named in the same breath with the others from our country and abroad that were considered for the competition.“

Since 1869, PPA has been promoting education and offering resources for its member photographers.

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Picture 1

posted by eturek at 11:15 AM

Comments [5]

Thursday, January 16, 2014
What a roller coaster the mercury has given us so far in January. We’ve had a record high and a record low and a record biggest swing between high and low in a 24-hour period (just not midnight to midnight). Our high was January 11, where the official Hatteras weather station recorded 70 degrees, tying a record set back in 1890. Our lowest low was on January 7, at 19 degrees (with a wind chill much lower than that, and in fact, morning temps in Nags Head that day were reported at least 10 degrees below that mark). What made that day so remarkable was that the previous day’s high had been 68, so the drop in Nags Head was more than 50 degrees in 24 hours.

All of this high, low, high, low has produced some wild weather, too: fog, lightning one morning as a front came through, downpours, a rainbow, and crystal clear nights (we are having one of those as I type). We’ve had gray days that felt like snow although it didn’t get cold enough, and we’ve had another run of spectacular sky shows at sunset.

And I’ve had the chance to make the acquaintance of yet another far-away visitor. This time I went in search of a Eurasian Wigeon, a really handsome red-headed duck hanging out with some east coast Wigeons at Bodie Light. But I didn’t see him, alas. Instead, I headed over to Manteo where I’d been told of a Band-tailed Pigeon. Wigeon-Pigeon! Gee I wish I’d seen them on the same day! I could have written a whole ditty about that, ala Dr. Seuss I am sure. But you are spared. All I saw that day was the Pigeon. And what a dandy bird! Right before I was getting ready to leave, another photographer from out of town and I were treated to a spread-tail display that helped explain its name. The bird’s usual territory is CA and the far west. It is way out of its range, a winter surprise.

Yesterday I woke up to fog and some sunlight combined. I’ve waited nearly four years, since early May 2010, for those exact conditions to try to capture the phenomenon of sunrays through fog in a stand of trees. There are enough wooded areas around Colington that I got a chance to position myself with trees in fog between me and the sun. I got a glimpse of this four years ago, but the gift from yesterday was over the top. I could see at times that the rays were tinted like sundogs, filtered through the fog into almost, but not quite, rainbow colors. Instead what appeared—as it does in a fogbow—was a tint of orange at the fringes of some of the rays. Fog’s droplets are so fine, that they sometimes will bend, or refract, light rays without actually splitting them into all the bands of color that make up white light, as raindrops do. (These are the conditions that can lead to fogbows, nearly colorless white bows of light that appear in foggy conditions like rainbows appear when the sun shines during or just after a rain shower.)

Have you ever received a gift, something you wanted and appreciated as you received it, and then later as you use it or wear it or live with it, you find it is even more wonderful than you originally imagined? I took a lot of sunrays-through-foggy-trees photos. I mean, a lot. I moved around as each position and stand of trees gave a different light pattern. I kept saying “wow” and “thank you” inside during the half-hour or so I was there. Then last night, as I downloaded and began working with the different views, I saw on my monitor what I had not seen in real time: one series showed a pattern of branches that formed a heart, with the rays of the sun radiating out from its center. Amazing. You can enjoy the light show I was treated to below.

Later that afternoon I went down to Bodie Light to check out the sky conditions there. I’ve a photograph in mind and heart and was hoping for just the right conditions. While those did not happen yesterday, the combination of clouds and clearer skies near the horizon produced a vibrant, about 270 degrees of sunset that stretched from west through north and over to the ocean. I literally dashed back and forth between a little pull off area on Bodie Island just north of the lighhouse to look west, and a beach access at the end of Old Oregon Inlet Road to look east.

The crowning bonus last night was moonrise. The clouds on the eastern horizon meant that it didn’t appear in fullness until it was up just a bit—and that made for perfect conditions for one other image I had in mind at Bodie Light. Back to the lighthouse I went! Bingo! Light, moon, reflections. Life is good.

As always, the cure for any cabin fever I’m having is simply to spend some time outside. I hope these images bring you at least some measure of the joy I felt, living them in real time. In fact, I hope more than that for you. I hope they inspire you to step outside for yourselves, expecting to be surprised...

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This is why its name is Band-tailed Pigeon. I loved the hint of blush color on its feathers. A lot of folks have been taking this bird's photograph; I'm glad it stayed around to pose for me.

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I keep checking out Alligator River Refuge. At some point, I expect to see bear again. This particular afternoon I spied this lone kestrel. I've seen one or two in Colington over the past ten years. They are always a treat.

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When I left my chores and headed home, it was still raining. The rain suddenly stopped and the sun appeared through a clearing in the west, and I thought, Rainbow! So I pulled over to check. Sure enough! That's a willet, enjoying it with me.

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Now we come to the foggy morning. This was one of the first images I made. Crepuscular sun rays, shooting upward, fog-filtered through the trees. Beautiful.

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The more I moved around, the more magnificence I found. In photography as in life, it pays to explore a little. (Or a lot.)

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And in photography as in life, a different lens, or a different angle of view, gives a whole new perspective. I call this Sun Dance.

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Here is the Sun Heart. Can you see it too?

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I found this pull-off with a little swale running toward a pond and the sound, north of the lighthouse. I loved how the colors were reflected in the water.

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In my journal, I asked for a chance to see vibrant sunrises and sunsets. Sometimes I've missed the opportunity with my working schedule. Ask and you shall receive: I've seen more vibrancy in the past four months than in many years. Thank You.

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Night Lights. Bodie by moonlight.

posted by eturek at 9:50 PM

Comments [7]

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Resolutions! Folks love ‘em, folks hate ‘em; folks keep them or break them. Me, I’m ambivalent about them, I guess. I’m not opposed to the idea per se; it’s just that I try to be the best version of myself I can be everyday, most days at least. And it’s not that I don’t think I can improve some things, either. I could play more and worry less; I could file more and pile less, for instance.

Years ago my writing professor Robert Davis completely revised my thinking on “revise” by suggesting that revision could also be read as re-vision. So, loving wordplay as I do, I thought this week that resolution/resolve could also be thought of as re-solve, as in finding a new solution to an old question or dilemma. I like the “re-solving” idea, because most of my prior resolutions (see previous list) consisted in trying to make an old solution to an old question work “this next time.” Those are the sorts of resolutions I wind up not keeping, or not very long anyway. But a new solution—there’s a concept that gets my attention.

One question or dilemma I grapple with every winter is how to see this landscape that I love with fresh vision, fresh eyes and heart. I tend to be a bit reclusive in cold weather, and that sets in motion a mindset that is very “set” in its ways. That mindset favors sitting over walking. It is over-fond of saying, there is not much to see, anyway (it’s a lie, I know, but sounds plausible when the wind is howling and the mercury is diving, as was forecast for today).

Here’s my dilemma: I love light. (Days are shorter and often grayer, grumble grumble).
I love sea oats. (It’s a long time until July when they bloom again, grumble grumble).
I love critters. (Freddi-fox has gone missing again, sniffle sniffle).
I love color. (Wait a minute, what did I say? I love color?! Smile, smile.)

It’s no secret to locals, but wintertime skies are usually the most vibrant here. Lower humidity often means the most striking and vibrant skyscapes, and we begin to see evidence of those in the fall as the days and nights cool. I got a chance to see quite a nice sunset-tinged cloudscape over a beautiful ocean just last evening, after a couple of cloudy and dreary days. That’s our reward for winter dreariness I think; the loveliness when it returns is usually over the top.

Now, back up one, to the loving critters part. It’s true I don’t see any foxes in wintertime, usually. And yes, the osprey are away until March or thereabouts, and yes, the pelicans don’t yet have full breeding colors. But winter brings its own visitors, like December’s Snowy Owl at Hatteras (and others have been seen, just not by me, at Oregon Inlet, Avon, and Ocracoke thus far). While I haven’t seen another Snowy Owl, I DO have a few wintertime visitors to share below. So I can’t really complain about winter critters.

There is not much I can do about sea oats except wait out their summer emergence. And there is not much I can do about how short the days are now except to appreciate the sun when it does shine. Winter is one of those times when I will ‘fess up to being more tired than I like to admit aloud, and one side effect of fatigue for me is that I forget to remember how many other winters I have been surprised and inspired by a fresh vision of home: whales spouting offshore, rare visiting birds, shafts of light that beckon like beacons. All it takes is my being willing to be willing: willing to re-solve, to be re-inspired, all over again. Even in January.

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Here was a New Year's Eve surprise: a huge gathering of Avocets. I counted 90 in this image.

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The last sunset of 2013, and the sea oats of winter. Who says winter sea oats don't have their own beauty to share?

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Papa Duck, otherwise known as a Harlequin Drake. Handsome fellow.

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Here is what I assume is the whole family: the male, a female and two "immature males." I notice that one of the youngsters seems larger than the other.

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While I have seen Purple Sandpipers a couple of times before at the Oregon Inlet jetties, this was my first chance to get close and take a close-up photograph. Another New Year's Day gift.

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So far the new year has roller-coasted between warm and cold; sunny and dreary. This was a windy, cold, sunny afternoon--Jan. 3rd.

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Just before sunset, looking east and north, not west. Big waves, puffy clouds. Delightful. As in, Full Of Delight.

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Here's another, also from Jan. 6, as the temperature was beginning to drop around sunset.

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Sunset itself was spectacular reflected in the clouds over the ocean. I call this Amplification. I can see what look like waves of sound radiating out from the center of the cloud. If the New Year were calling you...what would you answer?

posted by eturek at 1:49 PM

Comments [7]

(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 546490 times

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