I was looking at my desktop the other day, and realized that I wanted something “Christmas-y” instead of the one I had been using. I thought I had used this image before as a wallpaper, but as it turns out I never did. So here you go!
Believe it or not, this photo was taken back in January 2010 in Belhaven, NC. I included it on my paper calendar for that year, and it was such a hit in town that the woman who owns the house and dock where this photo was taken bought calendars to give out to her friends! As a Thank You I took her a print of this photo. Hopefully she is enjoying that print. And she gave me her permission to photograph from this dock whenever I’m in town, which I try to do whenever we are in Belhaven. The tree isn’t there any more, but it’s a great place for sunrise at certain times of the year. I think we’re due for a return visit!
Kathy & I want to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2016!
Kathy & I spent an extended Labor Day weekend visiting eastern North Carolina, generally the towns of Belhaven and Washington, NC. We’ve become friends with Andy & Karen Fisher who own Belhaven Water Street Bed & Breakfast in Belhaven, and we like to get out there a couple of times a year. We checked our records when we got home and realized that we’ve been going to Belhaven and staying at this B&B since 2007. And I like to joke that, even though we are friends with Andy & Karen they still charge us to stay there! Of course I am completely joking – it is worth every penny, plus I think she does give us a discount.
Other friends James & Yvonne McKelvey operate Wine & Words…& Gourmet in Washington. Just like it sounds, they operate a wine store with used books & music plus yummy food items. We make the trek to Washington a few times a year because James specializes in good wine at good prices. Our palates are very similar and we can count on his recommendations being spot-on. It’s a long way to go for wine, but it’s just another excellent reason to head out that way.
Another reason I love to visit the Belhaven area is that I have a number of favorite photo spots. I’m a firm believer in re-visiting places, and there are a number of places in the area that we visit every time we are there. This time, I had some new equipment to try out, and what better place to try new equipment than a place I have come to know and love?
We usually spend at least part of a day walking around downtown Belhaven and Washington, and this year was no exception. While much of the scenery doesn’t seem to change much, every so often I come across something new and interesting. And sometimes just the change in light and shadow creates something I haven’t seen before.
Another place we like to visit is Swan Quarter. While known to most people as the place to catch the ferry to Ocracoke, we’ve come to know it as a place with interesting fishing boats. About the only time we visit the ferry terminal is to use the restroom, because there aren’t a lot of alternatives in that area! Swan Quarter is home to Hobo Seafood, and a number of boats dock there. There seems to be something new every time we visit.
Another place we enjoy returning to is Englehard. It is home to several fish houses and has a fairly good size harbor with a lot of boats. It is often a good spot in the late afternoon, but this time we were there closer to mid-day. Fortunately it was a day with good clouds, so with good timing I was able to make some photos I am happy with.
Something new for us on this adventure was a visit to Aurora & Oriental, across the Pamlico River from Bath & Belhaven and accessible by road or ferry. We took the 30-minute ferry ride over and back. It is a fun way to travel and a nice break from driving. Plus the ferry itself always has a few photo ops! While we were there we came across RE Mayo Seafood in Hobucken, NC and another batch of fishing boats. We had lunch in Oriental and spent a little time exploring, but decided that we needed to head there for a whole day when we had more time. So it is on the list for a return visit!
I’ll write later about my thoughts on the Fuji X-T1, but suffice it to say that I am very happy with this little camera and have no regrets at all about making the switch. I’m still learning the ins and outs but every time I use it I feel like I’m working with an old friend.
It’s hard to believe that it was two months ago, but in early April, Kathy & I took our latest excursion to eastern North Carolina along with our friends Bill & Cathy from Ohio. We visited our usual haunts of Belhaven and Washington, but also visited Edenton and Bailey. Here are a few photos from that trip, just for fun.
As a general rule, I have gravitated away from trying to chase sunsets per se, as more often than not I end up waiting around for something that doesn’t happen. I do enjoy spending time on a beach that faces away from the sunset, as the soft light on the water is often conducive to the motion blur photos I have become so fond of.
Back in early November, Kathy & I visited Belhaven, NC. One of our frequent destinations, we often use the location as a jumping off point for trips around the eastern part of the state, looking for fishing boats, old barns or sometimes waterfowl.
For some reason though, I often find it worth my time to be “out” for sunset in Belhaven. Something there just causes the conditions to be good for great color. The downside is that there is not a lot of variety for foregrounds. There are a few docks, but they are all on private property and I tend to respect that. I do have a nice sunrise place where I have gotten permission from the owner to use her place when I am in town, and that has proven to be a good spot.
The great thing about sunset in Belhaven is that the bed & breakfast we stay at is on Water Street, so it’s easy to head out the door, grab my gear from the car and head across the street to the waterfront. For the last several years I have used the back yard of an unoccupied house as my staging area, and that is the place I have taken most of my sunset photos in Belhaven.
During our recent visit I found out that this house was recently sold. I met the new owner, and he seems like a real nice guy, but I’m not sure I will be able to keep using his yard for my photos. The next time I go there I’m planning to take him a couple of prints as a goodwill gesture, and hopefully he’ll grant me a perpetual pass to use his place. We’ll just have to see.
So what’s the deal with these posts? I assume that they are leftover from a long-abandoned dock, and eventually someone is either going to build a new dock or just pull out these posts. Something about them calls my name, and every time I go there I end up shooting at least a few frames of them. They make interesting subject matter, to me at least.
I hope you enjoy this selection of sunset photos from Belhaven, North Carolina!
My typical practice when I get back from a trip and am going through photos to process for my blog is to toss some of the picks into a Quick Collection in Lightroom. I’ll process those and when I’m done I’ll have a little group to go with whatever words I’ve had bouncing around in my head.
These photos have been sitting in my Quick Collection folder since we returned from our visit to Belhaven in late March. I think 6 out of the 8 were done, I just hadn’t finished them.
I thought I had better clear them out before I start posting more Hilton Head photos. So here they are, better late than never, I guess!
Kathy & I value quiet as much as just about anything there is to value. By quiet I don’t just mean sound, although that certainly accounts for a lot of it. I mostly refer to the kind of quiet that means the absence of noise, both physical and mental. By that I mean the constant background chatter, the incessant televisions that keep us “entertained” while we try to shop or have a meal, or the impatient and distracted “me first” drivers. It can mean also mean something as simple as having to call the bank or the cable company for the eighth time about some problem that can never quite seem to be resolved.
We go to great lengths to make our home as peaceful as possible. We don’t have a television. It’s amazing how much difference that makes. When we did have one we found that even when it was not on, it begged us to turn it on, to find something – anything – to watch. That’s noise. We love to listen to music, but when we do it is often smooth jazz or classical, with no words and no blaring horns or guitars. There’s a time and place for the big band jazz and the vocals, but we save that for working in the garage or cleaning the house. Our favorite play list on Spotify is called “Shhhhh!” (I made it up myself)
On our recent weekend with our friends Earl & Bonnie Moore, we found ourselves spending some quiet time at Swan Quarter Wildlife Refuge. At the end of a mile or so long dirt road is a good-sized parking lot. Why the parking lot is so large I have no idea, because in all the times we’ve been there I think we might have encountered just one car. The parking lot was established for the Bell Island Pier, a beautiful fishing pier that extends perhaps 200 yards or more into Rose Bay Creek, which is an inlet of Rose Bay, the Pamlico River and eventually the Pamlico Sound.
Despite the sound of the wind and surf, this is truly a quiet place. We enjoy spending time there, and enjoyed sharing it with Earl & Bonnie. It’s a place that reminds us that there can be quiet anywhere, we just might need to work a little harder to find it. There are a lot of spots like that everywhere. A few of them I like to keep to myself, although they aren’t exactly a secret. With others the key is to know when to go there and when to stay away.
Kathy & I have often discussed the possibility of relocating to eastern North Carolina. There’s a lot to like out there. It’s close(r) to the Outer Banks, we have made friends in Belhaven and Washington, and we’ve found that it’s just a great destination for a quiet weekend, whether I photograph or not. There’s a noticeably slower and more relaxed pace out there. It’s a pace we enjoy because it comes very close to the way we like to live our lives.
One of our objections to moving so far east is that it is so far from the other places we like to go. It’s a good 5-hour drive from Charlotte, and another couple of hours or so to the mountains. But at some point we realized that, being so far from everything might just be the point. Maybe escaping the hustle & bustle, the traffic and congestion, might be worth the price of having to drive a little farther to get to some of the other places we love. It’s hard to say for sure, but we may be on to something. It’s possible that being farther from some things might bring you closer to others.
For the foreseeable future, home is where the jobs are, since it’s those jobs that allow us to have the house and travel to all of the places we like to travel to. Down the road it might be another story, although I suspect the finally getting to the point where we can kiss the corporate world goodbye might lessen the need for escape. That’s a hard scenario to predict. But in the mean time, you can be sure that we will continue to seek the quiet places, whether they are close by or farther away.
Along the Pamlico River waterfront in Washington, North Carolina
I enjoy sharing my photography with other people, and the place I share the most is on my blog. The thing that I enjoy about that is that most of the people who read my blog, or at least those who comment on my posts, read it because they enjoy reading what I have to say and enjoy looking at the photographs I’ve made. I’ll occasionally get some constructive feedback about a process or technique I’ve used, but mostly it is just friends enjoying other friends’ photographs. I like that.
I often have a hard time sharing my photography with other photographers, especially hobbyist photographers, because too often such discussions turn into what I call a “duck measuring contest.” As soon as I show a photograph, someone has to pull out their iPhone and say, “Oh yeah, I got that. See?” or “here’s my albino Lithuanian wildebeest from my trip to the Masai last fall.” Whatever. It stops becoming a discussion about photography and becomes all about their photography. They don’t really care about my photography, they just care about showing me theirs. It doesn’t work that way on our blogs, though. And I appreciate that.
Kathy & I went to a wine dinner a few months ago at our favorite restaurant. Wine dinners are an experience that we really enjoy, and involves a pairing of nice wines with foods prepared specially to match up with the wines. Done well it is a culinary experience that is tough to beat. At these dinners we are always seated at a table with 4-6 others, almost always couples. The people are all very nice, but sometimes they know each other and Kathy & just sit there and listen, as they regale each other with tales of their most recent conquest, whether it is dinner at the French Laundry, their new boat or car, or their new 2,000 bottle wine room in their McMansion at the lake.
Eventually someone realizes that there are other people at the table (us) and decides to be polite and talk to us. Sometimes they’ll ask us where we live, whether we’ve ever been to Napa or what our favorite wineries are. And while it might appear that they are actually interested in what we do for a living or how old our kids are, it always seems to me to be an excuse to “pull out their iPhone” and talk about themselves. I’m not completely sure, but I think that’s because people like to find out where you fall on their own personal hierarchy. A lot of people have a need for that, and it brings them comfort to be able to rank and judge people based on their own scale of whatever it is that they value.
When I share my photographs on my blog, I never feel like someone is comparing my work to someone else’s, at least from the standpoint of whose work is better or who is a better photographer than someone else. Because for many of us it’s about appreciating someone’s work for what it is, not trying to prove we are better than everyone else.
One of the things I find fascinating is the wide variety of subject matter and the range of equipment we use. We have people shooting with the latest WhizBang Mark V, some using point & shoot cameras and others shooting with film. And it’s all good. Because what matters to us is not whether someone has the latest camera, but how they use the camera they have.
Whether a photograph was taken in someone’s back yard, Yosemite, Nova Scotia or Tuscany, what’s important is enjoying looking at photographs that show what someone sees and how they see it, not where they were when they took it or what camera they shot it with. And we learn about that by sharing. Sharing comments on someone else’s photographs and receiving comments on our own.
I recently built a new computer. Well, to be accurate, my son Kevin built a new computer and allowed me to plug in some of the parts, and I mostly installed the operating system with him looking over my shoulder. He hides his impatience with me pretty well, but he very politely allowed me to do it even though I was pretty slow and had to refer to the instructions too much. 🙂
Buying the parts was about as easy as buying a whole computer already assembled. I got a list of all the stuff I needed from a website online, confirmed my choices with Kevin and with Earl, and a few days later it started raining Newegg boxes at our house! The assembly process was fairly straightforward, too. Although it helped a lot that Kevin knew where all the plugs and pieces went. I would still be trying to figure it out if I was trying to do it on my own.
I know enough about computers to be just shy of dangerous. But I know little enough that whenever I start to ask someone a question I can feel the “please don’t ask me a computer question” tension start to build. As part of the learning process I spent a lot of time trying to figure stuff out for myself, and that involved looking at message boards. And just like on photography boards, there was a lot of condescending “if you don’t know that you don’t have any business building a computer” talk, and that can be a little off-putting. I never would have attempted the project if I didn’t have expert help, but now that I’ve seen it done, I feel like I would be a little more confident trying to make a change or even building another computer. Although the idea is that I won’t have to do that for a long time.
One of the first things I did after I got the computer up and running was to install Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC. I had not used Lightroom 5 on my old computer, because it was barely able to run Lightroom 4, and I was certain it would choke on Lightroom 5. I did have Photoshop CS6 on my old computer, but the only thing I was using it for was adding the text to my monthly calendar and sharpening the output for the web. The new versions of Lightroom and Photoshop aren’t a lot different than the previous ones, but it became apparent very quickly that I have some catching up to do.
Because I have taught classes and done tutoring in Lightroom, I consider myself a bit of an expert. I have even toyed with the idea of taking the test to become an ACE (Adobe Certified Expert) in Lightroom. But now I feel like I need to take a class myself, because after just a few short months of not keeping up, I’m already behind.
And that brings me to the point of this article. There are so many things that we have to know and understand to be photographers that it is hard to keep up with it all. We’ve always needed to be experts on the basics – composition, exposure and focus – fortunately those basics don’t change much, although the more we learn the more we find out we don’t know. We need to have a high level of familiarity with the mechanics of our equipment, and that equipment has gotten more complex as our cameras have become capable of doing more things. And then there is the output side – computers and printers. Assuming that we buy a computer that is already built, there is still a matter of getting everything to do what we need it to do, such as installing the software, calibrating the display and hooking up the printer. And if we decide that we want to do our own printing, that is a whole world in and of itself.
I love learning new things. That’s why the project of building a computer appealed to me. And there is something fun about buying all of the parts and assembling your own. And the fact that I was able to buy and build a computer to do my photography makes it that much more rewarding. But now the real fun begins. I get to learn how to use it and make it do what I want it to do, to hopefully make the final result of my photography even better. I’m glad I had some friends to help me along the way, and I’m sure I will be relying on them for more help down the road. But I’ll try to figure it out myself before I ask!
I received a number of favorable comments on a similar photo I posted last week and I thought it made for an interesting subject, so I processed another shot from that same location to share as this month’s wallpaper. I thought about using a snow photo, but for some of us, we’re hoping that the little bit of snow we got this past week means that we’re done for the year and that we can get on to spring. We’ll see how that works out, but that is the optimist’s view!
Well here we are, already into the second month of the year. I know I am looking forward to finishing the moving in process at just about the time the weather warms up enough to make getting outside a bit more enjoyable. Here in the south, February can sometimes mean an early spring or it can mean “don’t hold your breath.” I’ve got my hopes on an early transition. We’ll see what happens!
Kathy & I have worked really hard in recent years to strike a balance between planning & preparing for the future and living a full & meaningful life in the present. A concept that we recently came up with was the idea that we should make it a point to “Celebrate Every Day.” It’s probably a product of age and maturity, possibly wisdom, but starting from the loss of my own parents nearly 30 years ago and continuing as recently as the loss of Kathy’s parents last year, we have made a point of evaluating our own priorities in this context. We finally gave it a formal name just recently.
One night last week – Tuesday, in fact – we decided to have one of our more “splurgy” bottles of wine. We often save those for what we might consider special occasions. But in keeping with our “Celebrate Every Day” theme, we decided to open that bottle “because it was Tuesday.” Thus was born the idea of Wine on Tuesdays. Any other day of the week would be appropriate as well. 🙂