When I was preparing for my trip to the Outer Banks, one of the reference books I was reading made mention of the weather at Cape Hatteras. Here the weather can change at a moment’s notice. Due to being so close to the Gulf Stream, the Cape can have completely different weather from the mainland just a few miles away. Today began with crystal clear, blue skies. On the walk down to the point, we noticed this Merlin in the area.
I spent quite a bit of time with this little falcon. He was spending his time hiding behind the cover and carefully watching a group of shorebirds nearby. At one point he moved from one dune to another, still watching vigilantly over the shorebirds. I never did see him catch any of the shorebirds, but he was great fun to watch.
After the morning at the point, I decided to head back north. Pea Island NWR is one of those places that seems fantastic for birders, but is rather difficult for photographers, at least when I was there. During the winter, most of the best areas are inaccessible to protect the waterfowl. The one trail you can walk did have some ducks in it. The wind had picked up quite a bit and the skies had turned grey as this Bufflehead swam past.
As I continued northward, the weather really began to change. I was left with one of the most magical sunsets I have experienced. Sometimes the weather and light comes out and you’re looking around frantically for somewhere to pull over and something to put in front of your lens. This was one of those times and everywhere I looked it was private beach access only… Finally somewhere north of Duck (great name for a town), I found a public access point. Working feverishly, the sea and clouds provided the dynamics I was looking for.
One of the things people wonder about with photographers is how much digital editing goes on. Every photographer makes a different decision on this. For me, with wildlife, there is basically none. I just correct the colors and tones to be true to the scene I saw. With my landscape photos though, I do a little more. Here my goal is to be true to the vision or feeling that I wish to share. The light and clouds lasted a little while so I had an opportunity to explore my feelings about the scene. Although not dramatically different, I took a softer approach as I soaked in more of the sunset. In a few more minutes, the light was gone and the colors began to fade. One of the joys of photography is that there is no correct interpretation of a scene, but it gives you the opportunity to share what you are feeling at the time you press the shutter. Like the ocean, that feeling can change at a moment’s notice.