Persistence pays – Part II

Hello everyone,

Been a few weeks since I have been able to work on any images. To follow up on my last post, where I described working a scene and waiting for the right light, I decided to follow my own advice. During my annual visit to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, I took a more relaxed approach to my photography outings. I really just watched the weather and waited for what looked like a good evening and only ventured out 2 or 3 times during the week long vacation. This is a big difference from what I normally would do, which is going out every evening. On this particular evening, the clouds were looking pretty promising in the afternoon. I took a short drive down to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and walked out onto the beach. I scouted out the area for about 30 minutes before settling on a location. I found a spot where I had a good view of the lighthouse and felt the setting sun would be in a nice position. I setup and waited for the light to change. Over the course of an hour, I watched the sun dip down as the clouds rushed by. The position of the clouds really worked out well and I came away with some images I was very happy with. I processed these in Adobe Lightroom and then Photoshop using Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masks. Tech Details: Nikon D800, 24-120mm lens, cable release, Induro Tripod. Hope you enjoy.

Sunset light - Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC © Rob Loughrey
Sunset light – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC © Rob Loughrey
Summer color - Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC © Rob Loughrey
Summer color – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC © Rob Loughrey
Sun, sand and a gentle breeze - Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC © Rob Loughrey
Sun, sand and a gentle breeze – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC © Rob Loughrey

Persistance pays for sunset light

This is an image I took a few years ago while on vacation in NC. Being in the area reminded me of how lucky I was to capture this. While staying in the Outer Banks, I decided to take a ride and get some sunset images at the Bodie Island Lighthouse, which is located just South of Nags Head at Oregon Inlet. At the time of this image, the lighthouse was still operational with an old style rotating light. I arrived in the area about an hour before sunset and was scoping out a few locations. This is a challenging location to shoot. The area to the East of the lighthouse is a boggy bush area that makes it very difficult to navigate. Basically it was a no go for launch as far as I was concerned. While looking around for locations to shoot, the sun dipped below the horizon, mostly obscured by a layer of clouds – making it uneventful. I did notice a strip of clouds that looked promising but was having difficulty finding a good location to shoot from. Based on the view of the lighthouse on my way in, I decided to get back in my car and go onto Route 12.  I drove south along the highway finding a spot where there was a break in the trees and brush and pulled over to the shoulder. The majority of the view was obscured with all of the vegetation, plus there were power lines right in front of me. My only option was to climb onto the roof of my vehicle, which I quickly did. Once I got up there, I had the perfect vantage point to take in this amazing display of color. Once I got setup, the only thing left to do was to time my capture so that the light from the lighthouse was lit during my exposure. My timing was just right, as the clouds lit up the sky in what looked like a fire in the sky. People passing by on Route 12 must have thought I was a bit crazy, standing on the roof of my vehicle, but it was well worth the effort. After a little work and thinking outside of the box, I came away with what I feel is a great image of an iconic landmark. Hope you enjoy…

Technical details: Nikon D200, Sigma 80-200mm F/2.8 lens @ 180mm. 1/8 sec at F18, ISO 100, Manfrotto Tripod, Really Right Stuff Ball Head.

Sunset light - Bodie Island Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC. © Rob Loughrey
Sunset light – Bodie Island Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC. © Rob Loughrey

Hatteras dunes – continued

Just wanted to put out a quick post with another shot from my trip to Hatteras Island. For this image, I used a 24mm PC lens, low to the ground and tilted forward. I believe I had about 1 – 1.5 degrees of tilt after finding a focus point in the foreground. When using this lens, I often have to go back and forth between focus and tilt until I am confident that I have both foreground and distant objects in focus. Post processing was done in Adobe Lightroom (minimal), followed by Adobe Photoshop once again using TK luminosity masks. Hope you enjoy…

Morning light brings out the details in the sand on Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC  © Rob Loughrey

Sun, fun and Tony Kuyper Actions

Back in the Outer Banks with my family for a little R&R. We have had a great time here with some excellent weather, both good and bad, but mostly good. I did my best to relax and enjoy the time off this year, only getting up on two occasions to catch the sunrise and venturing out on two other occasions for sunset over the two week period. I paid close attention to the cloud cover and weather reports and was rewarded with an excellent sunrise on this day.   I returned to an area that I had scouted out the day before and was able to catch some great light in an area of dunes on the North end of the Island. I spent a good couple of hours shooting the area with two lenses – a 24mm PC and a 17-35mm zomm. Here is one of the first images I processed, shot with the 24mm lens that I used to create a panoramic shot. I took advantage of the tilt function on this lens giving the image sharp focus from near to far with just a few degrees of tilt. Thanks to Sean Bagshaw for his tips on how to use one of these lenses.  Recently, I began to use a new approach to process my images as well. If you haven’t heard of Tony Kuyper before, be sure to check out his TK actions panel utilizing Luminosity Masking to giving yourself complete control of your image. I found his site through Sean Bagshaw’s site and subsequently purchased the actions panel and videos that were created by Sean. I have to give both Sean and Tony major props for the videos and actions. Without the videos, It would have taken me much longer to understand the concepts behind the actions. Tony is an absolute genius with these actions and the panel, giving you complete control to edit your images beyond your imagination. I have watched the videos several times and am developing my own workflow utilizing the TK Actions panel as a primary source of editing.
Hope you enjoy my first TK Action processed image…

Windswept dunes, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey


Following up from my previous post – a self portrait from a night on the beach in North Carolina this past summer. This was a week with a new moon, so we had several days of very dark skies. After midnight, the town would turn off most of the bright lights which helped reduce the light pollution. It took 10-15 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, and even then it was still hard to see anything. Even though it was 3 or 4 am, the glow from the approaching sun was still evident to the image sensor.
Atlantic Solitude - Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey

Long overdue update…

Hello folks, sorry it has been so long since I have posted. As many of you can imagine, life catches up with you at times. I have been extremely busy at home and work lately. We recently moved into a new home, have been settling in and working on selling our old house. Work, excersize, family stuff – it all catches up with you. I have have been out shooting in the mornings, just haven’t had much time to do anything with any of the images. To make it better, I have been having issues with my laptop, which is now 6 years old. Another battery has decided to expand on me which may or may not be causing the keyboard and other things to act with a mind of thier own. Enough about all of that…
Since I have been quite busy – I will post one of my favorites from my summer trip to the Outer Banks. This is another shot of some of the star gazing we were doing out on the beach. A perfectly clear night, the waves crashing in, a small campfire dug into the sand and a few of us kicked back in our chairs looking up at the stars. The beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore have to be one of the best places to view the stars on a clear night. I can only imagine that it is even clearer during the winter months. I plan to make a trip down there at some point to find out…

Nikon D800, 16-35mm F4 lens, Enduro Tripod, Really Right Stuff Ball Head, 13sec @f/4.5, ISO 5000


Beach chairs, camp fire and a star filled sky on the beaches of Avon, NC. © Rob Loughrey




The wonders of the ocean

While out on the beach, taking start trail photos, I decided to take a walk down to the ocean. After going through the efforts of setting up my gear, my eyes had some time to adjust to the moonless night on the beach. While my camera was busy clicking away doing a time-lapse series, I looked toward the surf and noticed that some of the waves cresting had bio luminescent algae. I decided to take a closer look and was amazed at the sight. At various times, in different areas each time, the surf was glowing with each crashing wave. There was no pattern to the activity. Just an amazing display of light. At times, it was as though my eyes were playing tricks on me. After my time-lapse completed, I brought my camera down to the edge and setup for some long exposures. I took about 20 frames over the next hour, trying to time it when the algae was beginning to glow. I put all of the layers together in one Photoshop file and stacked them to let each glowing layer through. I preferred this method because I was not able to get good shots of the star trails as well with varying the timing of the shot of the water (too many gaps in the stars). Nikon D800, 35mm f/1.2, 20 sec @ f/2, tripod.

Ocean glow - Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey

Long exposure sunrise

Here is a quick shot of the Avon Pier at dawn. I put together this pano image from 3 pictures that were 20 sec each. The ocean was crashing in, the stars will still out and the sun was starting to color the eastern sky. Incidentally, we could not see the color ourselves. When I looked at my LCD on the back of my camera, I saw how much color was present in the long exposure. There were only a few people out on the beach. It made for a great morning…

Avon Sunrise, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey

Into the night sky

Continuing on from my last post, I finished up at the dock on the Pamlico Sound. I went back to the beach house and got everyone ready for a planned outing on the beach to hang out by a camp fire and do some stargazing. The sky was so clear during each night that even while walking from the beach house to the beach, we could see the Milky Way. We stayed out on the beach for awhile and little by little each of the kids and family members headed back for the night. As time went by, more and more lights were turned off reducing the light pollution. The display of stars after darkness sets in and your eyes adjust is just unbelievable. We checked the NASA website and were able to see the International Space Station cruise by, saw several satellites and many meteors with the Perseids Meteor Shower starting up towards the end of the week. It really makes you think about how small we really are in the scheme of our Solar System and Galaxy. After midnight, it was just my brother and I out there for hours.  You can check out his work at
Here is the first photo I shot showing the Milky Way. Nikon D800, 16mm lens, 18 sec @ F4, ISO2000 & Tripod.

An abundance of stars - Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey

Summer sunset

During a recent vacation to Hatteras Island, I went out on a few ventures during Sunrise, Sunset & a few all nighters out on the beach. The week we were there it was a new moon phase, which was great for night photography. The skies were clear nearly every night. It did make the sunsets a little less dramatic, but I made due the couple of nights I went out.
There are a number of places I have scoped out during previous trips that I like to go back to. One of the things I try to do each time is shoot a different angle or perspective of the scene. I am also a stickler to make sure that I don’t have intersecting lines if I can avoid it. What I mean by this is I try to make sure foregroud elements don’t overlap with middle ground elements, or that elements in the middle of the image don’t intersect with the horizon. To me, these are distractions. Maybe no one else notices it but I think it makes for a stronger image when you can accomplish this. At times I have to raise or lower my point of view, stand on a tree stump, climb on rocks …etc. Whatever I can do get the right angle. I take a test shot and then review the image on my camera, zoomed in and looking at each of the areas to make sure there aren’t any distractions.

This is a shot from the Pamlico Sound side as the sun was setting. Calm waters and a slight breeze, it was a great sunset.


Summer Sunset - Pamlico Sound - Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey