Clouds II

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Rain Curtains at Dawn — Corolla Beach, NC © jj raia

Rain Curtains at Dawn — Corolla Beach, NC © jj raia

The very first morning on the trip to the Outer Banks, all the clouds seemed to signal rain and a less than stellar sunrise. But I figured I would at least practice working with the surf on these mostly flat beaches in hopes of getting into a groove when things did work out. But, lo and behold, the clouds caught the magenta glow, followed moments later by a band of rain curtains which were backlit by the light. Of course, it only lasted a few fleeting moments, but the exhilaration lasted quite a while. Luckily, I already had a split neutral density filter attached in front of the lens, which helped in keeping the light values of the sky and ocean closer together, allowing for some of the reflections  in the middle ground to be better recorded.

Although the first morning showed no promise, the second oozed the promise of a spectacular sunrise, with spotty lower clouds and very thin, wispy cirrus clouds at high altitudes, and what looked like clearing along the eastern horizon. But as it turned out, nothing more than an orange glow along the horizon ever materialized. The clouds above just never lit up. But the simplicity of the image below clearly illustrates how a clean foreground works much better together with a cluttered sky than having both the sky and foreground filled with scattered elements.

Gentle Surf at First Light — Corolla Beach, NC © jj raia

Gentle Surf at First Light — Corolla Beach, NC © jj raia

Another afternoon of clouds had my son and I heading for a place along the sound in hopes of a good sunset. When we arrived, there was a clearing along the horizon and we both were giddy in anticipation of a glorious sunset. As anticipated, the sun came out from behind the clouds just before sunset, but ninety percent of the clouds seemed to have simply vanished within the last fifteen minutes before sun came out from behind the clouds, leaving our hopes shattered. A return visit, again with clouds, showed no sign of anything happening and we weren’t disappointed. So, I tried a few shots using a 10-stop ND filter for two-minute exposures to smooth the water and drag the movement of the clouds as they marched westward.

Storm Clouds over Currituck Sound — Outer Banks, NC © jj raia

Storm Clouds over Currituck Sound — Outer Banks, NC © jj raia

One of the final shots of the morning after photographing the surf and stumps (as described in the previous post here), was of the approaching storm clouds over the dunes below. Although the sun was behind thinner clouds in the east, it still provided a warm glow and a bit of directional light to give the dunes some definition. The ISO had to be bumped up pretty significantly to 800 to keep the grasses sharp in the constant breeze, but it was easily managed later in Lightroom. It would have been nice to be able to spend some time searching for something of interest to use in the foreground, but the weather was deteriorating rapidly, so I took only this single image after finding a spot with some leading lines, and called it a day. Normally, when hiking back to the car, I leave the camera on the tripod, and carry it over my shoulder in case anything else catches my eye to photograph. But this morning, it looked hopeless and I packed up all the gear, even covering the camera pack with its rain cover, before beginning the trek back to the car. It wasn’t more than two minutes later that I felt the first drops, and not long after that it began to rain, and then rain heavier. The waders I had on kept the lower half of me dry, but the fleece jacket soaked up the rain like a sponge. Without a hood for any protection, I felt like a drowned rat by the time I reached the car, but all the gear was safe and sound in the pack. It continued to rain for the better part of the morning, but by noon, the sun came out and we enjoyed an afternoon soaking in the sun, enjoying the waves sparkle in reflected sunlight, and watching the birds heading south for the winter.

Approaching Storm — Currituck NWR, NC © jj raia

Approaching Storm — Currituck NWR, NC © jj raia

 

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