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

EVE TUREK'S NATURAL OUTER BANKS
Monday, October 1, 2018
September Gratitudes
Gratitude Day falls each September near the Solstice, and this year, topping our list here in the northern Outer Banks is that we were spared a hit from Hurricane Florence. What a juxtaposition of emotions, gratitude for our near miss and grief at the damage we still see in communities just hours to our south. A slight tweak in the track and their devastation would have been ours. As it was, we spent days collectively holding our breath, watching the Weather channel and watching the weather. I got up two mornings in a row to see what effects the storm’s outlier clouds might have had on our morning sunrises. I went alone to Nags Head pier the first day, and joined fellow photographer Gordon Kreplin at Jennette’s Pier the second.

A few days before the storm, we had one of those bluebird-calm days when the Sound looks like a mirror. Two kayakers were out taking in the beauty of the still morning up in Duck.

Among the treasures I have on my bookshelves is my mother’s copy of an old paperback Roger T. Peterson’s bird guide—so old, in fact, that many of the birds are not even illustrated in color! There is a section in that guide, long since updated, named Confusing Fall Warblers. I always thought that was a funny title for a bird book chapter, until I took up birding myself.

After the storm slowed to a walking pace over the lower part of the coast, I had a chance to walk the boardwalk behind Duck church and look for our annual fall warbler migration. Local birder Peggy Eubanks confirmed that we were spotting Cape May and Magnolia warblers along with a Nuthatch, the only bird that can walk head-first down a tree trunk. Peggy and I were glad to see each other; she was one of my earliest friends when I first moved to the Outer Banks back in 1976. She was wishing a photographer would come along and give her a closer long-lens look at the birds, maddingly camouflaged in the dense tree branches, and I was wishing she were there with her wonderful accumulation of knowledge of bird plumage and calls. The timing, as is so true many times, was perfect. True to Petersen’s volume, the warblers were confusing, at least to me. I will include an admittedly much less than ideal image to show you how challenging spotting them, much less photographing and identifying can be! Before I left we were joined by fellow birders and photographers Joyce Edwards and Pat Draisey. They had more time to spend than I, and I left for home while they continued to stroll back south.

One of the first post-storm oddities I noticed was heightened butterfly activity at my lantana bush. Day One revealed at least 8 or 9 separate species, including some I did not recognize. Closer looks over several days confirmed that I also had nearly a dozen Gulf Fritillaries, presumably nudged (or shoved) north in the winds of the storm. We see this species in Carolina, but this is pretty much the northern extreme of their range. From researching online, I think it is unusual to see so many at once this far north.

About the middle of the month, I went to Nags Head Woods, intending to walk the main trail by the visitor’s center, but found it completely underwater! The bridge from the center’s porch disappeared into green ooze, and at least one other main trail was blocked off by signs warning of flooding. As all the rainwater from Florence makes its way slowly downstream, the Sound and many of the areas within the Woods are still wetter than usual. I checked the trails yesterday and while there is a spot of dry pine needles at the foot of the bridge, within a few feet the water takes ownership of the trail there again.

Thanks to the encouragement of Daniel Beauvais—and the loan of one of his cameras for a week in August—I sent off my older camera body to be converted to photographing only in Infrared. Back in my film days, I’d purchased a red filter that I loved to put onto my all purpose lens whenever the clouds were particularly spectacular, as the filter mimicked the look of IR film by darkening blue skies to nearly black and turning anything green—trees, grass, bushes, marsh—a luscious bright white. The IR conversion replaces the normal camera sensor; there are ranges of false color or true black-and-white you can specify, and I chose what is called Deep Black. If you are interested in the particulars, both lifepixel and Kolari Vision offer conversions and plenty of explanation and tutorials. I got my camera back from Kolari in record time and had one more hike in Nags Head Woods, this time with Gordon who was also using an IR converted camera. I carried both cameras and will include a full color and an IR image to show you the difference below. Retraining my eye to see, first in black and white and then in IR is an exercise in playful creativity! I am having a wonderful time with it. Look for some sprinklings of IR images in the blogs to come, if the scene warrants the treatment. One thing I am rapidly learning is that not all scenes are good candidates for the IR look. I enjoy learning, and fall’s somewhat slower retail pace is a perfect time—coupled with lower humidity and nice cloud formations—to be outside to play.

I think often how upside down our routine is compared with a non-resort area (or, say, a ski resort!) While most of the rest of the country is planning vacation and play time, we gear up for our busiest months. Winter, not summer, can mean rest for many of us and this in-between of fall begins to focus my attention on creative play. The IR conversion arrived just in time to inspire my visual self to see in new ways, always a great exercise and not just for photographers.







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Slick calm morning and beautiful clouds up in Duck.

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Subtle sunrise at Nags Head Pier.

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Who would have thought from the pre-dawn above that I would soon be treated to this? It always pays to stay put longer than you might first expect to, if you can.

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The next day's pre-sunrise was a little more pink, but still subtle.

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By the time the sun rose above the clouds, it was almost too bright to photograph. I loved the cross-current wave patterns here.

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Flooding in Nags Head Woods. No trail here--unless you took waders, which I didn't.

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Normally I would delete this out of focus butterfly photo-bombing my focused image. But this is a female signaling non-receptivity to the overflying male. She might be playing hard to get...or has already mated, and is therefore unavailable.

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Here is a Confusing Fall Warbler. I should mention these are small birds--and fast! No sooner would we spot one than it would be off its perch and away.

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Sound shore in Nags Head Woods. Mid to late afternoon and not the ideal time of day at this location. But a pretty spot.

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Here is the same scene with my newly converted IR camera body. I can already tell this is going to be fun!

posted by eturek at 4:27 PM

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(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 525884 times

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