Nags Head Pier

Posted by Arlo on Jan 26, 2007 under Photography, Postcard Valet

Nags Head Pier

My grandparents have a cottage on the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina.  It’s one of the places I think of as “home,” and I try to get back there as often as possible.  Nags Head has grown up a lot in my lifetime — it’s actually quite crowded in the summer now — but photogenic scenes still abound.

As a kid, I was always given a downstairs or back room in the cottage.  On the last couple visits, however, I was given what I still consider to be an “adult” bedroom.  (Not because I was all grown up; I’m still in the third generation down on the totem pole!  I was simply the oldest family member visiting at the time.)  Other than my grandparents’ room, this is the only room facing the ocean.  At night you can open the windows and let the salt air and surf lull you to sleep.  Early in the morning, the sunlight pours into the room as the sun climbs up out of the ocean.

I’m not a morning person.  Given the choice, I’ll take my camera out of its bag for the latter golden hour.  I spent most of my last Nags Head vacation reading in the hammock.  I never built up the motivation to go out picture hunting.  But on my last morning there, that warm, bright sunlight came streaming in the windows and pulled me out of bed.  One last walk in the sand before heading off to the airport.

The Nags Head pier is only about a half mile down the beach from the cottage.  On a morning with a calm, featureless ocean and an empty expanse of sand, it was the only obvious photography subject.  I walked up to it, under it, right beside it, trying to find the best way to fit both it and the morning sun into frame.  I took about a dozen photos, varying the exposure and switching between portrait and landscape shots.  This was my favorite.

I like that the guy casting his pole creates a little bit of action for the scene (in the 8 MegaPixel original, you can just barely make out the fishing line.)  I like the small details, like the seagulls waiting on the rail, and the guy on the end of the pier with his pole pointed straight down.  Often, digital cameras add weird color gradients to pictures of the sun.  I love how the red and yellow rings came through on this one.

There was only one thing I didn’t like, and it was easily removed.  There used a small smudge in the sky above the cast fishing line.  I’m almost positive it couldn’t have been a fingerprint on the lens — the photos taken before and after this one are clean.  Perhaps it was a small bug, passing in front of my camera, I don’t know.  At any rate, Photoshop’s healing brush made quick work of it.  I also used Photoshop’s Level tools to darken the shadows just a tad.  It gives the photo just a little bit more of that silhouette feel.

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 30 June 2006; 6:20am
Focal Length: 55mm
Shutter: 1/800 second
Aperture: F/5.6
Photoshop:  Levels adjustment, removed small, blurry smudge in sky

Jeez, I just realized that all the photos I’ve posted so far have some sort of body of water in them!  Well, except Moscow Thunderstorms, but even in that one you could argue that rain was in the background.  I gotta find a dry picture next week.