Tag Archives: nags head
September 24, 2010

Pelicans at Sunrise

Pelicans at Sunrise, Nags Head, NC

Purchase a Print or
Download Wallpaper: 1920×1200 or 1600×1200

When I stay at Nags Head, I attempt a sleeping schedule that allows for early morning walks along the beach.  I always think I’ll be able to get up before sunrise, but in reality, I’d have a much better chance of staying up all night.  At the end of every vacation, I’m so ridden with self-inflicted guilt that I inevitably drag myself out of bed too early on the last morning and spend my day traveling back home in sleep-deprived stupor.

This year was no exception.

We arrived in Nags Head just in time for my grandfather’s 90th birthday at the end of July, but we had plans to push on with our road trip shortly thereafter.  I stayed on the beach for less than a week and true to form, on the last morning, I woke up before my alarm and noticed the sun was just below the horizon.  I dragged Oksana downstairs with me to watch the spectacle, both of us fully intending to be back asleep within 15 minutes.

Oksana swung gently in the hammock while I stood on the porch and took pictures.  At one point, a lone pelican flew over the sand dune in front of the cottage and I kicked myself for not noticing it before it got into frame.  It would have looked great in silhouette against the sunrise.

I’d snapped about 20 shots by that point and the sun was about to get lost behind a bank of clouds.  I was talking with Oksana about going back to sleep, but I keeping my eye on the line of dunes behind her, hoping I’d spot another pelican before it got to us.  Just before we packed it in, I looked back out at the ocean and saw a huge formation of pelicans skimming the waves far out beyond where I had been searching for them.

I’m pretty sure I got out a “Holy sh…!” before I was able to swing the camera up to my eye.  I had time to take one picture – just one! – while they were centered underneath the sun.  Looking at it now, I realize I couldn’t have spread the pelicans out – six on the left, six on the right – any better if I’d tried.

Canon 5D Mark II
Date: 6:12am, 31 July 2010
Focal Length: 105mm
Shutter: 1/200 second (-1.3 step)
Aperture: F/5.6
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Rotated for level horizon, cropped to third lines, increased saturation to approximate real colors.


September 20, 2010

PV Extra: My Name is Hurricane Earl

This is a video about our experiences during Hurricane Earl when it passed by the Outer Banks in early September.  If you watched the sensationalist media in the days leading up, you’d think we were about to be hit by the storm of the century, but it really wasn’t that bad.  The eye stayed safely offshore while we were only buffeted by the outer edge of the spiral as the whole thing moved north.  My grandfather kept an eye on the news and sort of scoffed at the mandatory evacuations for all tourists.  So we stayed put and tried to get some video footage before, during, and after the storm for the sake of comparison.  I hope this’ll give you the impression of what being in a Category 2 hurricane is like.

With this video, I’m trying something new.  I didn’t spend nearly the same amount of time or effort on it that I typically spend on other Postcard Valet episodes.  Take a look at it; let me know what you think.  Tomorrow, I’d like to ask our subscribers some specific questions about it (and similar videos) with respect to our website.

September 9, 2010

Bioluminescent Display on the Outer Banks

Bioluminescent display at Nags Head

At dawn today, a light nor’easter blew in at the beach.  The surf roughed up a bit with whitecaps extending out to sea, but the waves themselves are not that large.  Still, it was a far cry from what the ocean was like just a few hours before, at 3am.

It was almost two o’clock when I when to bed last night, the last person in the cottage to turn out the lights.  Our room faces the ocean and just before going to sleep, I decided to look through the window screen at the ocean.  It had been calm all day, the waves no higher than 12-inches tall, so the whole expanse of water was simply flat and black.  A bright green wave broke on the sand bar.

I blinked.

Was that reflecting off the street lights or could it be…?

I waited through two more waves before waking up Oksana.  “Sorry, honey, but I think we might want to take a walk down to the beach.”


September 3, 2010

Lightning over the Nags Head Pier

Lightning over the Nags Head Pier

Purchase a Print or
Download Wallpaper: 1920×1200 or 1600×1200

Nags Head is turning into my de facto lightning photography grounds.  My grandparents have a beach house with a covered porch and hot summer afternoons often turn into evening thunderstorms.  But conditions aren’t always right.  Even when it’s not raining, often the wind blows so hard the camera vibrates on the tripod.

Anyone that’s tried to get a good lightning photo knows that it can take a lot of patience.  Good thunderstorms may display nice strikes every few seconds, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always have your camera pointed in the right direction.  Even if you do, the lightning strikes themselves won’t necessarily be photogenic.  It once took me 57 tries to get a lightning bolt to cooperate with the rule of thirds.

A couple weeks ago, another summer thunderstorm was passing us by at the cottage.  My cousin had a new camera and was out on the front porch trying to get a lightning photo of her own, but I decided to stay inside because it looked like it might rain at any minute.  Eventually she packed up, but the rain never arrived.  Later in the evening, when the lightning flashes picked up in frequency, I stepped out to take a look for myself.

The storm was passing south of us, heading out to sea, and as the warm, inland air advanced out over the sea, bolts of lightning were dancing every which way.  For a storm lover like me, it was a great show.  Even better, from where we sat it, was warm, dry, and there was not a breath of wind.  I decided to run in and grab my new camera.

Our neighbor’s cottage was empty, boarded up for the season. I didn’t figure they’d mind if I commandeered their gazebo overlooking the ocean.  Our porch is set back behind a dune, so it was a treat to be able to look out toward the Nags Head Pier with the storm behind it.  I didn’t even need a tripod; there was an 8-foot supporting column with a nice, flat surface on top.

How good was the show?  It took me exactly four exposures to get this shot.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Date: 9:04pm, 22 August 2010
Focal Length: 24mm
Shutter: 15 seconds
Aperture: F/4
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Minor rotation to level horizon, cropped to 17×6 panoramic, slight saturation increase

September 1, 2010

Catching Up

Our New Office

Have you been following Oksana and me on Twitter or Facebook?  That’s where the bulk of our travel updates have been posted so far.  I thought I’d have tons and tons of time to work on the blog while we drove across the country — we even paid for the unlimited data plan on our iPad! — but it turns out you can’t type very well while driving.  While sitting in the passenger seat while driv–You know what I mean!

Seriously, though, I expected there would be plenty of time left in the day for blogging, but I didn’t count on how tired we’d both be after putting in a few hours behind the wheel.  I was discussing this with someone on the trip (I forget who it was) and they brought up a very good point: It may not be physically taxing, sitting on your butt all day, but driving can be quite mentally taxing.  If you put in 6 or 8 hours behind the wheel, that’s 6 or 8 hours of unwavering attention you have to devote to the task.  It’s no wonder I don’t have the mental fortitude to sit down and string some words together on a laptop after that.

I’m in a hammock now.

A little bit of catch up, to explain how we got to where we are right now:

January 24, 2008

Two Thousand, Seven

2007 Awstats

So, 2008.

Yeah, I didn’t get as much writing done over the break as I’d hoped. Instead, I fiddled around with WordPress a lot, both on my own sites and someone else’s. If you’re the type of person that likes to read this via the RSS feed – And why shouldn’t you? The new version of WordPress tried to stop me from including the whole entry, but I fixed it. I got your back! – you might click through and take a quick look at the new design. I frittered away a lot of time on it while procrastinating. Hope you like it the one time you see it.

Looking over my blog’s web statistics for 2007 was enlightening, though I doubt any of you care. Just a hair shy of 50,000 “unique” visitors last year. Well, not really. That statistic resets every month, so there’s no telling. But still… scary on so many levels. Who are all you people?

On a related note, I did an ego search on Google the other day for the word “midgett.” This blog is third on the list after Midgett Realty and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter! That’s insane. “Arlo” shows up on the second page, but I doubt I’ll ever climb to the stratospheric reaches of Arlo & Janis and Mr. Guthrie.

What else is new? Hey, remember my idea to create a hard-bound book out of all these blog entries? Well, once I got to work on it, I realized publishing is harder than it looks. Specifically, proofing, editing, and designing the layout for a manuscript is a bitch. I scaled the project back, however, and I’m almost ready to try self-publishing a volume encapsulating just the first year of the blog. If it turns out, I’ll move on to 2004 soon. Right now I have a nice, big Word file – boy do I love Office 2007, by the way – with copious footnotes, a table of contents, and 4 or 5 appendices. Only thing holding me back is the foreword. Anyone want to write that for me?

Also, with the end of 2007, my first timeline was officially complete. I slapped up a new one for 2008, but my life has been boring so far; nothing to report. I went ahead and archived the old one, though it makes me feel bad that I didn’t write about many of the things on there. Guess it’s time for a quick synopsis:


July 5, 2006

Nags Head Thunderstorm

Nags Head Thunderstorm

Purchase a Print or
Download Wallpaper: 1920×1200 or 1600×1200

To me, this photograph represents patience. As a thunderstorm brewed around us on the beach in Nags Head, NC, I sat on the porch and snapped photo after photo, trying to capture a bolt of lightning. I took seventy photos in all, each one exposed for 30-seconds. This was lucky number 57.

I didn’t have a tripod (I used the railing on the porch), and the strong gusts of wind meant that I had to hold the camera down with my hand. That, or the multiple flashes of lightning, must have been what caused some strange blurry artifacts along the right-hand edge of the house. They were easy to Photoshop away, though, plus it gave me an excuse to remove some telephone lines on the left and level the horizon while I was at it.

After looking at all the other pictures, most of which have nothing but black clouds, I find it amazing that this lightning bolt struck so perfectly in the frame. And to think I almost gave up and went inside around picture #45…

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 29 June 2006
Focal Length: 18mm
Shutter: 30 seconds
Aperture: F/3.5
Photoshop: some cloning, wire removal, minor rotation and crop

Just for fun, two more variations can be seen after the jump.