Things have been a bit slow on the photography front as alas, I’m still fighting off the poison sumac and the various complications that resulted from that joyful experience. Things seem to be improving once again, so here is hoping. Meanwhile, I’m once again grateful to the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA. for the opportunity to show a few pieces of my work. The images below are hanging in the current Atelier exhibition, which runs until September 28. If you like photography and live in eastern or central Massachusetts, the Griffin is an incredible resource. The Atelier is lead by Meg Birnbaum who continues to be an inspiration and a guide. If you can’t make it…(click for a larger image). These are from the collection “Erosion” from Manteo along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Posts tagged ‘Manteo’
I’ve made it clear in the past that I am no wildlife photographer. The hours are terrible. The equipment required weighs even more than mine. Perhaps even more daunting, there has been so much good wildlife photography out there for so long that I’m not sure I’d ever have anything to add. I have had some luck creating fine art imagery that involves birds, but have not devoted sufficient time to pursuing that area. I do enjoy seeing wildlife though. It says something about the state of nature and the land, subjects in which I am quite interested. In general, the presence of wildlife suggests I think that we’re doing something right and that at least something from nature hasn’t bee obliterated by our footprints. The later point though is always subject to change but I’ll save that rant for another day.
The Outer Banks and the area of eastern North Carolina that lies to on the western side of Croatan Sound is inhabited by a surprisingly wide array of wildlife species and I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing some of the associated imagery. This is shared purely in the interest of fun, with a bit of education thrown in. Art this is not, as you will quickly see, though some of the images, as usual of birds, are I think worthwhile. When to begin? Large to small I think.
Just over the bridges from Manteo to the mainland and eastern North Carolina you’ll find the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, a fascinating place. We asked one of the volunteers at the Refuge Visiting Center in Manteo the best location for seeing some bears. He pointed us in that direction, and we were not disappointed. We arrived there at about 5:30 in the evening, just before sunset. As you probably know, most bears are off duty during the middle of the day. This one was just punching in. Here’s looking at you kid.
One can’t help but be impressed with their size. There was an article in the Boston Globe this past Sunday, page one, discussing the fast growing population of black bears throughout New England and particularly in Massachusetts. After reading the article I could only conclude that it is just a matter of time before we confront a bear at the Quabbin Reservoir. Did I mention how big they are? They are big. Of note, there are supposedly no bears actually on the Outer Banks or in Manteo. It would be a very long swim, even for highly aquatic bears.
Sea otters populate the coast line, adding their usual upbeat perspective.
There is a second, smaller mammal of interest, the Nutria. These little guys can be found under the docks. I saw several, but only had my camera this time. This is not a great shot, my apologies.
We have to then get to my favorite, the birds. The White Egret. These are hardly unique to this area but they are still so interesting to watch, we spent a fair amount of time doing just that.
We had so many encounters with Egrets that I actually had a chance to create a video about one fishing. This is a very short video, just over a minute, but you may find it interesting. Make sure you view it in HD.
Ospry are quite welcome throughout eastern North Carolina. Indeed, power poles and taller moorings often have a platform on which they can build their nests. They can often be seen this time of your hunting and fishing to feed their offspring. They fish at top speed just feet off the ground.
Ospry mate for life and live for quite a few years. They return to their nests year after year. This nest is in the water just off of Nags Head, behind Basnight’s Restaurant, a famous location. You can eat dinner and watch them feed. The Outer Banks are of course subject to horrific storms. Several years back, this family’s nest was destroyed. With a bit of human assistance however, the nest was rebuilt and the family returned.
In terms of size ranking, or sizish ranking I really should say since I’ve not strictly adhered to that protocol, we should probably raise the issue that would even make Indiana Jones anxious, “snakes, why did it have to be snakes?” They seemed to be everywhere on this trip, far more that we’d ever seen. I do not know the reason.
Want to know what snakes eat, at least some of the time?
As it turns out, other snakes. I would guess that the winner in this contest didn’t start out that much bigger than the loser. Some of these snakes are quite poisonous as it turns out, though I was never able to find out for sure if this one was.
The bird population stands out as I said. From Cape Hatteras to inland, the variety of size, shape, color, attitude and behavior seems endless. My best bet is that this is King Snake though the markings are quite right.
Yes, even the gulls have an appeal, though perhaps less so to the farmers.
Last but certainly not least to those who love them, we need to thank the custodians of the beach, the folks who keep it clean.
So just a brief amateur’s overview. It is hard not to be grateful though for what the presence of so much wildlife means for the environment. Yes, much has been lost, but not all.
Manteo is one of two rather large towns on Roanoke Island. I gather Manto is not considered legally part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but psychologically they are absolutely connected. I learned that they aren’t legally connected in a most interesting way. If you go into a grocery store on the actual Outer Banks, say in Nags Head or Kitty Hawk, when your groceries are bagged, assuming you didn’t bring in shopping bags, they are bagged in paper. No white plastic bags. It’s wonderful. I despise white plastic bags. If you live in a city, they liter the landscape. They are of course not recyclable. Yuk. But I digress. I mentioned how much I liked that to a clerk at one point and he informed me that plastic bags are illegal on the Outer Banks because of the hazard they represent for various types of birds and for related environmental reasons. How refreshing is that? But in Manteo, they are in fact legal. However, most stores there have paper bags readily available if so desired.
Manteo Harbor is a lovely place and the Town has worked hard to make it so. I normally don’t spend a lot of time on locations such as this because others have typically done a nice job, better than I could do, of telling the story here. The Town and Harbor for instance have had to fight back against hurricanes and related storms, as you can imagine. These images though are from a nice windy day, which suggested to me that more long exposure work could be useful. I was relatively pleased with the results, but ran into a significant problem/learning opportunity. Docs may seem stable, but they are not. When you’re exposing for ten or more seconds, everything, including your camera, is going to be moving no matter how hard you try to keep the camera and the subject stable. So, we experiment, a critical ingredient I think of growing as a photographer/person.
More to come.
The north end of Roanoke Island, within the borders of the Town of Manteo, North Carolina, offers for me the most compelling location I’ve yet found on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s a largely secluded spot, though visitors occasionally park in the lot to walk or relax the beach (though one needs to watch out for the snakes). I’m intrigued, and drawn back to the location, by the interplay between history and nature here. In the water close to sure, as well along the beach are the remains of a dying forest. The land has eroded and the trees have largely perished. It is an on-going process down here, as it is in many places.
This is an historic location from the human perspective as well. An important American Civil War battle took off and on shore here, a battle to control the sounds along the eastern coast of North Carolina. The Union took the prize. Roanoke Island came under Federal control. As a result, near this location there was once a “Freedman’s Colony,” a refuge for escaped slaves from the mainland. It’s a long and possible dangerous journey across Croatan Sound, which you can see here. It must have seen far more dangerous then. And of course, this is near to Fort Raleigh, the location of the first English landing in the New World, one that did not go well. The “Lost Colony” was the result. Now, it is quiet, except of the storms that blow in from the west.
More to come.
I have already posted several images from my most recent trip to Manteo, earlier this summer. Manteo lies in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. It’s a wonderful place and we had the benefit of wonderful company throughout. We had more time to explore the area and to think, and both those two “t’s”, time and thinking, often make for better photography. I’m happy to report the release of a new book, in hard copy (on fine art paper) or e-book form that includes over twenty of those images is now available from Blurb. You can see a preview if you look to your right. If you are on a mobile device and don’t see anything to your right, then you can click on the link here:
Here’s some background for those interested. I’m a huge proponent of project oriented photography, an approach most clearly articulated perhaps by Brooks Jenson, publisher of Lenswork, my favorite photography magazine. I”ll do a lousy job of trying to paraphrase him here, but in essence, projects emerge from the photographer’s collection of assets that are subsequently grouped together around some kind of theme. You may go out on an assignment to collect a particular kind of image, built around your own vision for a particular output. But sometimes, things come together after the fact as well, when you’re looking at a body of work from a particular location.
Such was the case for me in relation to my Manteo work. After three weeks I had lots of images, some of which I liked. But I didn’t see the theme. I knew I wanted to pull them together in some type of organized output, but wasn’t sure how. Manteo is on Roanoke Island and as such is surrounded by water. Now there is a unique theme. Is that really what it’s all about? Then as I looked at the images I found myself drawn to the most mysterious ones, ones that seem to ask rather than answer questions. The reason became clear to me over time.
I was deeply moved by the story of The Lost Colony, one of the great mysteries of the English invasion of the continent. I’m from Virginia originally and often have some fun with New Englanders by reminding them that “we got here first.” (Actually, we, meaning Virginians, were not even close to being first. There were of course the Native Americans, who really were first. Then probably some Vikings. Then of course the Spanish, and who knows who else.) But actually there had been a previous attempt at establishing a permanent English colony in North America earlier in the 1580’s. That attempt took place in what is now Manteo.
It did not go well as I mentioned in earlier blogs, but the fact is that we don’t know what went wrong, to this day. Clearly, the colonists who presumably died there were (a) pawns in a larger geopolitical dialing match; (b) left to fend for themselves by greedy privateers; (c) victimized by climate forces that they could not understand nor influence; (d) beset with their own hubris, thinking that they were well prepared to farm when they really weren’t; and we could go on. The notion that they ran into a lethal conflict with the local Native America population has not been proven either, and in fact, the opposite could also have happened. They may have been befriended by those who really did get there first. Archeologists and other scientists are truly stumped. I won’t go into the details, but if you like a good mystery and particularly if you like scientific puzzles, I’d highly recommend further exploration.
That set of events, for which the play was subsequently named, is called The Lost Colony. (Click on the link if you want more background.) So while Manteo is a charming and quite friendly town surrounded by water on three sides , I will always think about the mystery that permeates the water and marshes. The new book, Mysteries of Manteo, is the result. It is printed by Blurb, which may give some pause. I now find Blurb to be doing a pretty good job, much better than in the past. The book is printed on fine art paper and the color management is quite effective. The images are a good representation of what I was trying to invoke. Again, if you’re interested, you can view the book in the widget to your right, purchase a soft cover addition, or at a greatly reduced price, the pdf. The later of course is NOT printed on fine art paper, but then you know that.
Thanks to Al, Donna, Maya and Chester, our wonderful hosts.
Tech Note: The book was created using Lightroom’s book function. I was overall pleased with how well the function worked, though it is not InDesign. Try it to create your own PDF’s.