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!
Kathy and I love to travel, of course, and while we aren’t the “world travelers” that some have made us out to be, we’ve seen our share of the world and we spend a lot of time talking about what kind of travel we want to do. We have our lists of places we “should” go, and all of those have varying levels of interest and priority. And of course there are places that we would love to go but probably never will. Some of our favorite memories are from places where most people would never bother to go. Of all the places we’ve been, a trip to Kentucky a few years ago still comes to mind as one of our favorite experiences. Who’da thunk?
Like a lot of things, what we do and what we enjoy has to come from within. We need to be able to take the time to figure out what means the most to us. What are our priorities, rather than a heavily cliché-ed “bucket list” developed by some magazine publisher to sell more advertising. Who we are and how we feel is a product of our own existence and our own experiences. Comfort level has a lot to do with what we are willing to try. Not everyone has that voice that tells us to step out of our comfort zones. But for those of us who do, we definitely need to listen.
Like a lot of people, I’m often tempted by the idea of “if I knew then what I know now.” But I try to keep a lid on those thoughts, because ultimately I didn’t know then what I know now, and my entire life’s experience ultimately contributes to where and who I am today. I can’t change the past, so the best approach for me is to look ahead, because that’s the only thing I have any degree of influence on – to make the best of what I have and who I am.
In many ways, this idea of comfort zone has parallels with the way we see the world. For those of us who are observers, we see things that other people don’t see, and sometimes others see things we don’t see. And we travel the same way. When I first started doing photography seriously I would sometimes get up in the middle of dinner, afraid that I was going to “miss” sunset. I’ve since learned that I’m always missing something, and that helps me reconcile the idea that I’m not going to get to “do” everything.
Kathy & I are very close to the point where we can decide to walk away from our corporate lives. Quite often we find ourselves feeling that that day can’t come soon enough. There are other days when things seem to go along fairly well and it feels like collecting a few more paychecks won’t be all that difficult. The difficult thing is going to be determining when the right time might be to call it quits. We have established many checkpoints that will tell we’re on the path. Some of those we have met, many we’re close on, but a few major ones have yet to be realized. But we have a plan and hope that when the time comes we’ll have the guts to say, “NOW.”
For me, my primary goal for what I want to do in retirement is to stay retired! If I end up doing some kind of work I’d like it to be for personal satisfaction rather than to pay the bills. The good thing is that there are a lot of rewarding things we can do that don’t cost an enormous amount of money. While they may not check other peoples’ boxes for fulfillment, they might be just fine if that was the alternative.
We’ve never paid a lot of attention to the “if money were no object” scenarios because it was always our intention for that not to be an issue. Not that we expect to never have to think about money, but the idea all along has been to have provided for a level of financial security that would allow us to continue living the life we have become comfortable with. And if that doesn’t work out, I suspect we’ll figure out how to travel and buy wine with whatever we do have! So for now, we hope to hold on to the jobs we’ve got for as long as we can, and every paycheck is a victory of sorts. Murphy’s Law would suggest that as soon as we decide for one of us to stay home, the remaining job we’d be counting on would go away.
For a lot of people, their biggest fear with retirement is that they won’t have anything to do. That is the thing that I worry about the least! Whenever we decide to walk out of that corporate world, I know that there is a whole lot of world out there to explore. And while I don’t have a chance of ever seeing it all, Kathy & I both plan to make a point of enjoying whatever we do see as much as we possibly can. That doesn’t take a list, and it doesn’t take a lot of planning, but I think it is a pretty good goal.
One of my favorite destinations for photography is Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge, on the coast of Virginia. We visited there a few years ago for several years in a row, specifically to photograph the Snow Geese and Tundra Swans that migrate through there in late fall. We’re overdue for a return, and I’d love to get a visit there on the calendar for next year. Hopefully I can get my buddy Don Brown on the mend long enough to plan an adventure there with me!
Chincoteague is one of these places that never lacks for something to shoot. Even if the birds don’t show up at the time you happen to be there, there is a beach, woods, ponds and lots of other wildlife to make it a special experience no matter what.
One technique that I’ve found works well for abstracts is to put my lens into manual and deliberately throw it out of focus. It’s funny, but as much as I love shooting abstracts I often forget to try that. When I was looking for an abstract for this month’s wallpaper, I wanted something that was about fall color. I came across a lot of shots, but then I remembered these. I only did a few of them but need to do them more often. I love the effect, as it is a lot like the results I get when I shoot moving water. But instead of the moving water making the patterns they come from the shades and tones in the scene.
Fall seems to be coming a little early around here. The weather in general has been very strange the last month or two. I hope everyone is able to enjoy fall wherever you are, or spring for those who are “upside down” on this earth 😉 .
Kathy & I spent the week leading up to Memorial Day at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. HHI is our “go-to” beach for a nice, relaxing vacation.
As I had hoped to do, I bribed Kathy with good food and some wine from home to convince her to eat in a couple of evenings so we could enjoy – and I could photograph – the beach at sunset. She’s such a good sport! 😉
Capturing the water in the evening light often results in images like these that just ooze peace and quiet. I had a little extra incentive to come up with some good images this time, as we have a few walls in our new place that need some art. I even made a few verticals with that specifically in mind, but those will need to wait for a blog post since not too many people I know use their monitors in the vertical position. Although it might make a nice phone or tablet wallpaper. Hmmmm…. 🙂
I was a little slack with my posting and processing the last few weeks, but I have a lot of new photos to process and a number of them that I am looking forward to sharing!
This month’s wallpaper continues the abstract theme. I don’t have many landscape motion abstracts, and the ones I do have tend to be vertical images. Those would make good tablet or phone wallpaper but not so much on the computer screen. I do have a lot of moving water abstracts that I really like, primarily because I spend a lot more time shooting water at the beach than shooting mountains. Plus, making good motion landscapes is hard! It seems that I have a lot more luck getting water abstracts that I like. But no matter.
This image is titled Flat Rock, Morning, was one of my first print sales a few years ago and continues to be one of my most popular photographs. So out of the archives it comes to live for a month on your desktop if you so choose!
Kathy & I will be headed to the beach later this month, so don’t be surprised to see some more moving water photos in June!
Keeping with the theme of abstracts, here is another take on one of my favorite “beach blur” photographs. Captured by panning the camera at a slow shutter speed, I’ve always loved how the motion tends to simplify a scene. It’s tough to get right, and a lot of experimentation is required. One of the benefits of digital cameras is the ability to try stuff like this until we (hopefully) figure it out!
Whew! I have to say that 2013 was a wild one for the Dills family! We sold two houses, observed the construction of a new house, moved twice, took a couple of great vacations and just generally had a lot of fun. But I’m just about worn out! Kathy & I are really looking forward to a little quieter year in 2014, with some time to recharge our batteries, catch our breath and enjoy life with just a little less “excitement.”
In keeping with the “quiet” theme I decided to go with a beach scene for this month. This is another from the archives – all the way back to 2007. Taken on the beach in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, this photo reflects the peace and calm I feel at the beach, especially in the early morning or late afternoon. One of our very favorite getaway locations, the beach is high on our list of places to return to in 2014.
We have a little more settling in to do in our new place, but we’ve got things just about to the point where I can start thinking about photography again. I sort of hit the big “Pause Button” this past year, since I just wasn’t able to give it the time and attention I like to devote to my photography. I’m looking forward to settling in and really wrapping my brain around it again. Stay tuned!
I have received a number of compliments on the photo from my last post and for the same photo that is on this month’s print calendar. This truly is a wonderful photograph, one of my all-time favorites. This is a location I have visited a number of times, at different times of the year and in varying conditions. The particular evening that I made the photograph that became this month’s calendar, I had exceptionally nice light. It only lasted for a few moments, but that light, combined with very still water, made for just the right conditions.
I remembered a similar photograph that I had taken at this same location several years earlier, and went back and pulled it up. While nice in it’s own way, it was a more cloudy afternoon and the light is much more subdued. The lighting was much more subdued, which is what I would typically favor for a lot of the photography I do. It is still a very nice photograph, but not on the same level as the later one.
It is a good example of why we return often to a familiar location. Because you just don’t know what conditions you might encounter.
OK, so I’m a little late this month – SORRY! Actually I sort of forgot. But at least ONE person contacted me to tell me that they missed my update. Sorry, Kevin W, that you had to go almost a whole day without the latest calendar! 🙂
Lots happening in the House of Dills this month. Hopefully I’ll be broadcasting from my new “studio” for the December update. We’ll see. I’ve got some posts in the works, though. Words for some, photos for others. I just have to put them together.
For those of you who also have my print calendar, this is one of the few times that I’ve duplicated my print calendar with my desktop calendar. But when I turned the page on my printed calendar this morning, I liked the photo so much I decided to put it on my computer screen, too! I hope you enjoy it.