I've never been to the Outer Banks before, but the area easily lived up to everything I've been told about it and more. It was just a cool place to be! The towns seemed super busy during the day but incredibly sleepy when I was out shooting which is never a bad thing. Makes it feel ever so slightly more remote, and like I have it more to myself. I found myself in the Outer Banks this past weekend for a photography workshop put on by Mountains to Sea Workshops and guest-led by Athena Carey. There were probably about 12 of us counting the instructors, and we had an awesome couple of days working the area and looking for good light. We also donated more than our fair share of blood to the local mosquito population. Which by the way, judging by the size and sheer numbers, may be the state bird in North Carolina? I'll have to check into that.
It was a Friday afternoon to Sunday morning workshop based out of Nags Head so I started my drive up on Thursday night. Coming from my area of Florida, it was about a 13 hour drive that went by relatively quickly with the help of an audio book or two. Although, I must say that the two hours I spent trying to sleep in my car about half-way up didn't go over nearly as well as I had anticipated. First, who knew that it's illegal to sleep in your car at a rest area in GA, SC or NC?! Florida almost encourages that with their 'Rest Area guarded at night' signs. So, I found a 24 hour ingles thinking no one would question my car being there for a couple of hours and jumped in the back to grab a quick nap. That was what I easily imagine to be the loudest ingles parking lot on earth. It didn't help that I'm pretty sure the street sweeper cleaning the parking lot realized I was trying to sleep and seemed to enjoy doing donuts around my car multiple times. Crazy. I gave up after about two hours, grabbed a starbucks and made the rest of the drive.
This photo was taken on Sunday morning of the workshop at the Manteo Lighthouse which is on the interior side of the outer banks pretty close to Nags Head. We pulled in before sunrise and started setting up anxious to see what kind of light was about to show. The radar showed rain moving into the area, so it was a tossup for if we were gonna shoot a stormy or warm-sunrise scene. As the light came, it was apparent at least to me that I was working towards presenting a somewhat stormy scene. I lean that way anyways in the majority of my work so this fit right in. We had been rained on briefly for a few minutes when I got the opportunity to take this shot. The biggest challenge was keeping rain off the front of my lens (this is starting to feel like a trend). The camera can handle the elements perfectly fine, but all it takes is one drop of water on the lens to distort a part of the image.
There are a couple of things that really move me about this shot. I love the subtle way the clouds almost wrap over the top of the lighthouse as if they didn't want to crowd it for the photo. I love the contrast of the clean, white house against the early and stormy skies. The dark water, reflecting the sky helped pull attention down the pier and towards the house and it was still early enough to pick up the lights along the pier and inside the lighthouse itself. And then there's the symmetry! :-) Gotta love symmetry.
This Outer Banks long exposure was taken at ISO 100 and F14 with an exposure of 65 seconds. I used a 6-stop B+W neutral density filter to cut light and allow for the longer exposures while also keeping my ISO low and my aperture as close as possible to the sweet spot on my lens. One thing I've run into before on piers like this is that shake and can ruin the shot as people walk and move to get various angles or shots nearby. It can make getting an extremely sharp and detailed image quite a challenge, but this pier was solid. No movement of any kind and the detail is easy to see.
If you would like to purchase a print of Manteo Light (Outer Banks Long Exposure Photography), please click here.