OBX

A few years ago we vacationed in the Virginia Beach area with my wife's family -- siblings, in-laws, cousins and uncles. It was a raucous trip but we had a blast. This year we decided to travel a bit further and see what the Outerbanks -- OBX -- had to offer.

Clark's Bay

I wanted to capture one of the spectacular OBX sunsets that I had heard so much about. But this was a family vacation and my wife insisted that I be home for the extended family dinners we had planned. Based on my estimates there wasn't time to eat dinner and still make it somewhere to set up the tripod and camera for a sunset shoot.

But .... on the fourth night the families decided that perhaps we each needed some individual family time. I convinced my family that we should eat nearby. The Rodanthe Pier would only be a few minutes drive and I would have time after dinner for some sunset photography.

We decided to eat at St. Waves Seafood & Steak. But … our venue turned out to be disappointing[^1] so we grabbed some deli sandwiches from The Waves Market next door. I had read that sunsets in the OBX are spectacular, especially on the bay side, and given that I now had a lot more time, I drove to Clark's Bay.

We found a picnic area with seating and an excellent view of the bay. We ate and talked about how much we were enjoying the vacation. This didn't last long because at the start of the golden hour, the beach was suddenly over-run with the evening sand fleas that started to chew on Bhavana and my daughter, Kiran. Interestingly my son, Shaan, and I were not affected. My wife and kids escaped to the safety of the car and I was left by myself to think about where I would setup for the shoot.

While my family sat safely in the car I setup the camera in several spots, capturing images each time. But it wasn’t until just before sunset that I found this viewpoint. I think this is the best of the series of images I took that evening.

[^1]: Turns out St. Waves Seafood & Steak is a raw and cooked seafood store. Not a sit-down restaurant as my wife had thought.

I started with three images at different exposures (-2/0/+2) and combined them in Photomatix and applied the *Natural* preset.

In Adobe Lightroom I applied the VSCO Kodak Gold 100 Warm preset and then adjusted the following:

  • Post-Crop Vignette Amount: -21
  • Post-Crop Vignette Midpoint: 0
  • Post-Crop Vignette Roundness: 51
  • Grain: 0

I used the Upright tool to level the horizon and removed several sensor dust spots.

I then pulled the resulting image into Photoshop and used the content aware-fill tools to remove some debris in the grass area, the edge of a picnic table, and a distracting branch from the dead tree on the left that was "hanging" in the upper left of the frame.

Under a Rodanthe Pier

I considered cropping this to as a vertical image to push the eye down toward the glow from the light but ... I like it better this way.

Rodanthe Pier

The images were all shot on a tripod at three exposures (-2/0/2) and combined in Photomatix Pro with the Natural preset to create an HDR.

I removed several sensor spots in Adobe Lightroom and then applied the Kodak Gold 100 Warm preset from VSCO Film 00 (grain to zero). In Photoshop, I removed the lamp poles along the pier. I simply felt that this made the image a bit cleaner. I leveled the horizon and added a post-crop vignette by setting amount to -21, midpoint to 0, and roundness to 51.

Equipment:

  • Nikon D5100
  • Tokina 12.0-24.0 mm f/4.0
  • Manfrotto tripod
  • Hoya 0.9 ND filter

This is the the Nikon version of one of the images I captured with my iPhone 6 and the Slow Shutter app. I like the orange-red of the sky and how it is reflected off the water on the beach.

The image was shot my Nikon D5100 on a tripod at three exposures (-2/0/2) and combined in Photomatix Pro with the Natural preset to create an HDR.

I removed several sensor spots in Adobe Lightroom and then applied the Kodak Gold 100 Warm preset from VSCO Film 00 (grain to zero). I leveled the horizon and added a post-crop vignette by setting amount to -21, midpoint to 0, and roundness to 51.

Dawn at Rodanthe Pier beach

I released these two iPhone images as Creative Commons Zero (CC0) images via Unsplash. They were both shot at Rodanthe Beach on a tripod using the Slow Shutter app on my iPhone . I think a VSCO Cam filter was applied but I don't remember.

View from Bodie Island Lighthouse observation deck

I didn't have a chance to visit the Bodie Island Lighthouse during our vacation to the Outerbanks. The kids didn't think it was interesting and Bhavana didn't think her knees could handle the strain.

To be fair, the lighthouse is about a 30 minute drive from our vacation house. It was a big ask to ask them to endure a one hour round car ride so that I could spend 30 minutes capturing some images. But on the drive out from town I convinced them to stop and climb with me.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

A shot of the Bodie Island Lighthouse take on the last day of my first ever action to the Outerbanks. I shot these with my Nikon on a tripod.

Three image HDR in Photomatix Pro with the Natural preset.

Created By
Khürt Williams
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