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.

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