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

After the sunset…

A quick follow up from my previous post…
I always stay in a location for a good amount of time. To me that often means several hours of being in one location and working the scene. The light changes so much over time that it is almost like being in a new location after an hour goes by. Case in point – this photo is from the same coast line I was on during the last post while the sun set. I had walked out to the coast on the pier shown in this photo. While the sun was setting, I walked north along the marsh to a pier that was washed out except for the pilings. After the sun went down, I walked back to the pier and used it for several photos. I put on my Singh Ray Mor Slo 5 Stop ND and Gold & Blue Polarizer filters to make sure I had a good 25-30 Sec exposure. The Gold & Blue filter also help to enhance the colors. I love the long exposure look in coastal photographs. The water and clouds are blurred but your stationary elements are sharp. I think it gives the image such a different feel. In future posts, you will see how the landscape changes even more as the stars start to become visible…

Twilight - Cape Hatteras National Seashore © Rob Loughrey

Outer Banks Stars – Part II

Here is a vertical shot of what I was shooting each night on the beach. One one night, I had both of my cameras snapping pictures. One in horizontal format, the other in vertical format. I tried to keep the North Star on the edge of the image. You can see that there was a thunderstorm out over the Atlantic Ocean. The lightning strikes can be seen on the horizon. The bank of clouds I spoke about in my previous post can be seen inching into the image on the right.

Stars over Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey

Outer Banks Stars

If you read my previous post, you already know I spent a number of nights out on the beach after midnight. The skies were clear except for the few times I had a stray cloud pass by. Towards the end of my time lapse shoot, I did have a bank of clouds roll in which started blocking out the stars. It is both quiet and noisy while out there all alone. The surf is crashing in over and over, but that is all that you hear. It was so peaceful that I ended up falling asleep on the beach while my camera was clicking away. More to follow….

Star trails over Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey

Light pollution blues

One thing that has made it very tricky to get some good shots of the star filled skies is the amount of light pollution in the world. In a previous life, I spent some time out in the middle of nowhere on a Naval Combatant where on a moonless night you could see so many stars it was hard to describe. Even out on the edge of the east coast, there is a significant amount of light pollution. During my stay in the Outer Banks, I wanted to get some night shots of the Avon Pier under a the light of the full moon. The moon itself provides a significant amount of light pollution, blocking out a good deal of stars as well as the edge of our galaxy, the Milky Way. After several nights of visiting the beach after midnight, I was able to get some shots of the pier without its lights on. I have posted two photos to show the difference in lighting conditions. The first photo shows the pier at about 1 am – lights still on as the owners were on the pier fishing. The second image shows the landscape with the lights off. This was at about 3:30 am, when I was returning from taking photos down at Cape Hatteras. You can clearly see the difference in stars that you are able to see, just with the pier lights off. The full moon bathed the pier, beach and clouds with an erie light. Hope you enjoy…

Avon Pier under a full moon, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey


Avon Pier under a full moon, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey

Stars over Hatteras

Here are a few shots from the mostly clear night skies. I spent several nights out getting star trail photos in a few locations. There were some clouds that breezed by during the 4 hours I was out each night. Getting some good shots of the light house was difficult due to the frequency that the light rotates. I had to get my exposure down to 6 seconds, which meant I had to increase my ISO very high to get the proper exposure. I used some noise reduction software to correct this in the image.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse under the stars, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC. © Rob Loughrey


Stars and clouds, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC © Rob Loughrey