Friday, August 22, 2014

Trip to North Carolina, Part V:
Atlantic Beach, daytime

The "daytime" portion of the Atlantic Beach posts mostly is about a dissection of the shot you see leading off this post, a frame taken with the iPhone outside of the Crab Shack in Salter Path, N.C., about six miles west of Atlantic Beach. The monochrome version is the first photo below the text, with a slight crop on the left to remove the matter in the upper left corner.

Even though I ventured out twice for sunset shots while in Atlantic Beach, these shots at the Crab Shack were taken a few hours before sunset, so I am leaving them out of the next post, which will be devoted to the sunset shoots.

The restaurant faces Bogue Sound on the north side of the island, and while waiting to be seated for dinner that evening, I had a chance to capture these near-sunset shots. The one above, in particular, intrigued me, and I ended up cropping it several ways ... and also converting the shots into monochrome, which I liked a lot.

Above and below: One crop of the photo was to better position the bird atop the pole as the focal point. 

Above and below: This crop simply removed some possible clutter on the left and right sides of the image to allow for a (hopefully) more dramatic image than the original.

Above and below: The monochrome versions of these two shots looking out at Bogue Sound, I felt, were so superior to the "color" versions, that I decided not to even present the color shots.

Above: A bird resting on a pole on the street where the house I stayed in was located.

Above and below: I got hooked into trying to get photos with gulls in the landscape. The ranged from the one above with a solitary gull, to the one below with a bunch of them circling above and even more on the sand. The food the couple was feeding the ones in the sand had caught the attention of those still in the air.

Above: A fishing boat got close enough to shore for me to get it in reasonably good size and sharpness with the zoom lens.

Above: Another high-dynamic range landscape juxtaposing the shoreside grass against the ocean blue.

Above: I took this shot because it was an example of an apparent tourist indulging in a trendy past time -- the selfie. This and all of the remaining photos in this post were taken in the evening, with very low light. I had to use a high ISO, so I pushed these images through a noise-reduction filter.

Above and next two below: These shots of the beach and the beach along it were taken at sunset, but I'm not going to use them in the next post. 

Above: I tried several times to get a sharp image of this ship at sea, which lurked on the horizon the whole time I was in Atlantic Beach. I lucked out, finally, with this -- with a seagull bonus in the bottom.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Trip to North Carolina, Part IV:
Atlantic Beach 'sunrise'

The stop at Atlantic Beach during the weeklong swing through North Carolina entailed more photography than at Wrightsville Beach. That's largely because Lee Ann and I chased two sunsets and one sunrise there, compared to just the one sunrise in Wrightsville Beach.

I'll start the photo collection from Atlantic Beach with the sunrise, which occurred on the last day there. And it started out very disappointing. The day we chose to get up early for it (and this time we timed it properly), the sun was thoroughly masked by dense clouds. However, on the upside, there nevertheless were ample photo shots along the beach that morning, especially with herons feeding for sand crabs in the tide and people taking early-dawn strolls.

One of my favorite shots of the trip came that morning. Using the far end (270mm) of the Tamron 18-270mm lens, I was far enough away to inconspicuously get off a few shots of a man walking his dog as the two of them approached me. I turned my camera to shoot some herons as the man and dog came upon me, and when they had passed, the dog wandered out of the composition to investigate something that had piqued its interest.
That left the man alone walking away from me and into a wonderful composition featuring the pier in the distance, the tide splashing against the sand nearby, and a nicely spaced row of herons feeding in that sand on either side of him. I present the color version of the image here; I prefer the monochrome version that leads off the post. As always, you can get a bigger and sharper version of the images (especially if you access this blog using a mobile device) by clicking on the photos.

Another welcoming composition featured a woman (right), an infant bundled in her arms, walking snug to the lapping tide, just behind a couple of herons. A ship out at sea in the background and a gull in the upper left corner add secondary elements, hopefully offsetting the slight vignetting ones gets when the Tamron lens is zoomed at maximum focal length (270mm).

One couple who had seated themselves in a spot in the sand well away from the tide, after seeing us photographing anything we could find of interest, tried to alert us to the intermittent bobbing fins of a small school of porpoises they'd been spying for a while. I had trouble finding the fins even with their help pointing in the direction of the sea where they had seen them. When I finally saw them, I put the camera up to compose ... but as it turned out, my one glimpse of the fins turned out to be the only one I'd get. The porpoises had disappeared from view.

Next: Atlantic City daytime

Above: The man pictured at the top of this post as I photographed him with his dog as they approached me. This shot was taken a minute or so before the one above.

Above: The start of a series of images featuring the herons feeding for sand crabs where the tide stops on the beach. A man eager to go for a swim prepares to dive.

Above: In my tweet (@konz2624) of this photo, I used a caption something along the lines of : " ... and my mate has to like long walks along the beach." 

Above: Among my favorites of "heron only" shots along the beach.

Above: I wasn't able to succeed in getting many shots of a heron with a leg in mid stride, but I got it with this one.

Above: I was going for the fishing boat/heron juxtaposition here for a composition idea. I'm not sure it works, but ... I present it anyway for your consideration. 

Above: I shouldn't have to say too much about this; it's strictly another juxtaposition composition.

Above and next two below: I finish with three landscape shots, the first (above) inspired by Lee Ann, who saw this leading lines opportunity before I did. She hasn't finished processing all of her photos yet, so hers could very well be much better than this. The image below I include because of the luck in including the seagull over the pier in the composition. The last image was something I had high hopes for ... for reasons now I'm not sure of. I think I was going for the spartan-like look of the white house standing out above the others juxtaposed with the wooden fencing. But I disliked the color version, and it wasn't until I converted it to monochrome that I felt it was worth keeping.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Trip to North Carolina, Part III:
Sunrise at Wrightsville Beach

Absent-mindedly researching sunset time at Wrightsville Beach, N.C., using Indianapolis data proved costly. There was no traditional sunrise inching above the horizon to catch, because using the Indianapolis data, the sun had already risen above that point -- and a bit beyond -- by the time I had camera in hand and was prepared to shoot.

But with a combination of shots using the Canon 7D and iPhone, I did capture an array of images with various secondary subjects and elements with the sun in rising position that morning.

I spent a good chunk of time in post-processing exploring various ways to present several of the images. Again, I turned to color hues -- combinations of full color and monochromes, but also adjusting the highlights slide to bring out or minimize the solar spherical shapes and to introduce dramatic collars to the sun.

Secondary subjects ranged from people walking the beach, to runners, to surfers deciding to get an early jump on the morning tides.

Here they are, and as always, click on the image to see it larger, sharper and in more detail. Leading off the post is a single-frame version presented to illustrate detail I actually lost in the HDR version (first below). The detail in this instance are the five birds you can hopefully see in the top image in and around the sun. It's all but lost in the layered version below. Those white lines you might see in the foreground angling up to the left and right are the hotel's seagull sound wires.

Next up: Atlantic Beach. 

Above: One of the iPhone shots, which I played a bit with in post-processing to bring out detail in the surfers heading out to the water ... and to reduce highlights to  give the sun more definition.

Above and below: Color and monochrome versions of the same image.

Above and next two below: Various frames capturing beach walkers enjoying the sunrise.

Above: An iPhone photo, the very first picture I took, reflecting the sun closest to the horizon. I shot this through the hotel's seagull sound wires, the white lines you notice particularly in the dark foreground area in the center of the image.

Above: In this HDR rendering, the melding/layering effect amplified the sun's crepuscular rays. For this shot, also taken through the seagull sound wires, I also pulled back some of the natural amber tones to reveal more of the ocean and sky blue.

Above: Joggers enjoying the early-morning rays.

 Above: The horse-rider, in another iPhone shot.

Above: Boosting the saturation a bit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trip to North Carolina, Part II:
Wrightsville Beach

Waterproofing contractors called this morning to ask if they could hold off starting the job in my basement until tomorrow, so I'm going to take this opportunity -- while there is still dust-free air in the upstairs to breathe -- to file post No. 2 of the North Carolina trip photos.

First stop after Winston-Salem and Wake Forest University was Wrightsville Beach, a community built on an island east of Wilmington and surrounded by the ocean, a couple of bays and Banks Channel. Three fulls days and parts of two others allowed for time to photograph one sunrise (although a miscalculation in timing resulted in just missing the start of the spectacle) and quite a few landscapes. I'm going to leave the sunrise shots (well, at least those in which the sun is depicted) out of today's post; I'm going to make it a separate post next.

Wrightsville Beach is popular, and the pier is used by tourists and fishermen alike. Tall grasses that line the end of the beach sand offered interesting opportunities for creative photographs, integrating the pier as a primary or secondary element, as images in this post hopefully will show.

I bracketed all my shots of the landscapes, even if people were walking in them. Sometimes the blur seemed artistically effective, other times not so. And on a few occasions, the motion correction feature of the high dynamic range software I use, Photomatix, was able to minimize it. So you'll see a few HDR shots sprinkled in among the batch in this and subsequent posts when people are involved.

Reaching town on Sunday evening, July 13, I decided not to dig out the DSLR gear for my first shots of the sunset on the beach, taken from the second-floor overlook at the Holiday Inn Resort. I used simply the iPhone. But I did use the Canon 7D for the HDR shot leading off the post, an ocean overlook taken from my seventh-floor room in the hotel. I really liked the distance coastline element in the composition, something you can best appreciate if you click on the image to look at a bigger size.

Next up: Sunrise at Wrightsville Beach.

Above and below: There were a handful of pictures I exploited for various crops, "looks" and color tones, so quite a few pictures have multiple "versions" in my computer folder. These images, full color and a monochrome with a sepia/antique tint, are HDR renderings, and even though the beach walkers are a bit blurry, I liked the motion effect ... and preferred it to the one in which I cropped them out.

Above and below: Another example of HDR color and monochrome renderings of a row of dwellings along the beach. I first processed the single-frame version of this image and disliked the original, full-color version. The HDR color one came out much better, I felt. 

Above and next two below: Frames from the iPhone shoot on the first evening in Wrightsville Beach, taken from the second floor of the hotel's overlook just before 8 p.m. iPhone did a great job of capturing the bronze sunset colors, I thought. In the third photo, you get to see the ocean juxtaposed with the hotel pool.

Above and next three below: A few frames of images using the pier as a subject element, with and without the grass.

Above and next two below: More tall grass shots and photos using the beach umbrellas as subject elements. Umbrellas like the one in the first image below could be rented for the day. 

Above and below: My first crack at using the lifeguard stand as a photo subject. my favorite lifeguard stand shot will come during a sunset shoot in Atlantic Beach. These lifeguard stand shots were taken during the sunrise shoot at Wrightsville Beach, as were the people shots below them.

Above: A risky HDR rendering with moving people, but the people's distance from the camera minimized the blur and enable Photomatix to correct anything pretty well. 

Above and next three below: These images were taken from the balcony of my seventh-floor room, which overlooked Big Lollipop Bay, which flanked the island on the side opposite the ocean. The shots include a couple of early-morning paddleboarders (first shot below) and landscapes of the town itself, including a detail shot of one of the homes there. 

Above: The iPhone gets the credit for this night time shot of the South Beach Grill, where I dined for lunch on one day and dinner on another. This image was treated in noise-reduction software.

Above and below: Views of adjacent hotels fronting the ocean, including the one I stayed at (right). The shot below is a detail of the palm trees you see in the middle of the shot above. 

Above and next two below: Images taken of and near Banks Channel across the street from the South Beach Grill. The one of the people fishing was taken along the Causeway Drive bridge, which you see from the ground-level perspective in the second shot below.

Above: The ocean -- which oughtn't need an introduction, but just in case you weren't sure ... 

Above: My coda for this post is a foamy view of the ocean ... and the very last shot I took -- again using the iPhone -- at Wrightsville Beach before heading up coast to Atlantic Beach.