Archive for the ‘Cape Lookout’ Tag

Reflections: Narcissus   8 comments


A single wild pony gazes at his reflection, at Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout, North Carolina, NC

Narcissus

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It’s been an interesting week. I’d like to thank all who came by to visit. I’m very happy that you’ve taken the time.

As we wind down a week of pony pics from both Shackleford Banks and Assateague Island, perhaps we can take a pause for “Philosophy Friday.”

For those who stop in briefly, this is the dominant male of a group of wild ponies encountered on Shackleford Banks near Cape Lookout, N.C. He’s the same pony featured earlier in Bad Hair Day. The ponies have been on the island ‘forever’; it’s believed that they swam ashore from distressed Spanish galleons in the 16th century. Not these particular ponies, of course, but their ancestors. 8)

If you’ve been following from earlier in the week, I mentioned this posture that the male was taking. As I very slowly and quietly (yeah, right) moved to get closer to the herd — which included a young foal — this male dropped his head and pawed the ground. Not aggressively, mind you, but enough for me to get the clear message that I shouldn’t get any closer.

I’m good with that.

My friend Mike “Saddleguy” Scott suggests that it was an accurate read of the horse’s behavior, so I feel good about my decision to back away slowly. Shortly after I backed off, the herd sauntered toward the beach, then up and over the dunes. Photo op over.

Now, on to the latest of the ‘Reflections’ series and why I called this “Narcissus.”

You might recall from Greek mythology the story of Narcissus, a young man of not inconsiderable good looks. He was exceptionally proud, and shunned the advances of those who would love him, including the nymph, Echo. Nemesis saw this action and attracted Narcissus to a pool where he saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image.

Any time that Narcissus tried to touch the beautiful image in the water, it vanished, only to return a short time later.

He brought his lips near to take a kiss; he plunged his arms in to embrace the beloved. It fled at the touch, but returned again after a moment and renewed the fascination.

“When I stretch forth my arms you do the same; and you smile upon me and answer my beckoning with the like.” His tears fell into the water and disturbed the image. As he saw it depart, he exclaimed, “Stay, I entreat you! Let me at least gaze upon you, if I may not touch you.”

By degrees Narcissus lost his color, his vigor, and the beauty which formerly had so charmed the nymph Echo. She kept near him, however, and when he exclaimed, “Alas! Alas!” she answered him with the same words.

Absorbed in his splendid isolation and unwilling to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus withered and died. A flower named for him grew on that spot.

I’ve long believed that there is more to the story of Narcissus, a deeper meaning that we can take away from it. This is the nature of all good fables, myths, and parables: Read between the lines to find something much more than just an interesting story.

We are social animals. We are conditioned to be in contact with one another. To love, to grieve, to share, and to live in relationship with others. This can be seen everywhere among sentient beings — in our own circles of influence; in the way that groups of species move in the environment; in the herd of wild ponies that traveled together and worked carefully to protect the young foal. A pony doesn’t know what he looks like, but he well knows that he should stick together with other ponies instead of hanging with humans.

In our world and modern culture, we sometimes tend to lose that innate sense of contact. The current world environment that we’ve created seems to encourage distancing ourselves from one another. Nations quarrel with, and plot against, other nations. Leaders bark orders from their high places and people suffer as a result. Areas of the planet are now so toxic that we can’t walk near them, separating us from our very environment. Our media culture bifurcates opinion into left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’, and focuses the little attention we still have to give on the friction between the poles. All of this causes a sense of separation between our internal notion of “I”, and the rest of the world. Is it ever more palpable than when contestants on ‘reality’ shows take the solo walk of shame off the set, are voted off the island, or are branded as “The Biggest Loser?”

Even if you care not to buy into that polarization, sometimes it seems we have to work so hard to keep up with life that we simply don’t have time to nurture relationships. Whereas front porches used to be the up-front feature of a house, those have been replaced by the up-front garage, which discourages casual, chance, nurturing discourse between neighbors and isolates us even further as we drive in, hit the zapper, and close the door behind us.

‘Social media’ venues, I think, are a reflection of our attempt to get beyond these influences and make contact with others, to develop relationships that are valuable and rewarding based on similar interests or ideologies. In a world where our culture serves to divide us one from another, it’s a way of reaching out to others to share something that might nurture us.

But perhaps too, I think, it’s our way of not hating ourselves for what we could become…

To go against the grain of what we are — social creatures — by living in the modern world, we sacrifice something very important to us. The singular focus on “I/me” and the exclusion of love killed Narcissus. An interesting interpretation of the story of Narcissus is not that he was so in love with himself that he couldn’t bear to leave his reflection, but that he hated himself for spurning the affections of others. In the self-created absence of healthy, loving relationships with men, women, and nymphs, he retreated to a place at the pool where each approach to his beloved was met with an equally loving response, and yet it was fleeting and unattainable. If he reached out to embrace, the reflection reached back. If he leaned over to kiss the reflection, it was right there for him. But he couldn’t actually make meaningful contact with it.

Without mutual contact and relationship, we suffer negative psychological effects and the brain is rewired. In extreme isolation — without feedback from others — we can begin to doubt that we even exist. We can’t ever see ourselves (physically), and in isolation, we can’t perceive our own sense of self (psychologically.) In a world that sometimes seems to encourage us to backpedal away from one another, we need even more the contact, love, and nurturing relationship that can only be found in healthy social interaction with others.

I think it’s best to do this in person, but sometimes sharing in online activity can bring us partway there.

Do you like what I’ve created here from my imagination? I love what you’ve done, and I’m remiss for not telling you that more often.

Are you a good person? So am I.

You’re trying your best to find your voice in creative work, sharing it with others? Yah… me, too.

Do you see me? I see you!

Can we band together like a herd of ponies — sharing, loving and nurturing one another in the face of a world that would have us attack one another?  God, I sure hope so, or else we might suffer the fate of Narcissus.

You can hit the Like button or ReTweet this if you wish, but I’d much rather hear from you directly. As I said in the first line, I’m so very glad you’ve taken the time to visit.

Love and Peace to you,
Rob

Land Ho?   6 comments


Land Ho?
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On the return trip from Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout, up ahead in the distance and far from land, we saw an usual sight. Two motorboats (just off frame) anchored in, and the occupants had left to do… something. They might have been looking for clams, shells, or other form of aquatic life. We just don’t know for sure.

This is not just a trick of angle, really. In Core Sound, there are many places where the water is only a few inches deep even at mid-tide. It can make paddling difficult if the water gets too thin, and sometimes, you just have to get out and walk the boat to deeper water.

Single exposure taken from Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/5.3, 1/640s, 220mm.

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Another Little Piece of Us   8 comments


Two kayaks beach on Shackleford Banks, overlooking the Cape Lookout lighthouse, North Carolina

Another Little Piece of Us

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Early on, I was going to title this something really boring, like, “Kayaks at Cape Lookout.”

While not the most outstanding of images, it does reveal a bit more about our lives and interests, and I don’t suppose that’s a bad thing to do at this point. In fact, only yesterday, Barbara Youngelson wrote a comment on my blog that seemed interestingly coincidental: “It’s so cool when we learn a little about the photographer/artist through his work.” How could she have known I was going to post this?

Following up on the last two images of the wild ponies at Shackleford Banks (NC), I thought I’d put up a picture of the boats that take us to the places we love so well. (Well, you can’t see Susan’s kayak, but it’s much like mine, only firecracker red and yellow.) These kayaks have taken us through many interesting adventures, visiting the Okefenokee Swamp on many occasions, the Florida Everglades, Key West, the Gulf Coast, as well as many more local trips along the rivers and sounds of NC.

In the background is the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, one of nine lighthouses and two light towers that grace the shoreline of North Carolina. They’re fun to visit, fun to climb, and serve as impressive backdrops to a day on the water. It’s also challenging to try to time the light for the picture… 12 seconds.

For those interested in such things, the boats are both made by Perception (now Harmony, I believe), and are gel coat over Kevlar with solid bulkheads, about 17′ long. The ‘Shadow’ in back is just a bit shorter than the ‘Eclipse’ in front. I think one of the best things about them is that they can take you places where other boats can’t go… we can still navigate even when the water is only about 6 inches deep. You’ll… umm… see that coming up soon.

Hand-held single exposure, Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 70mm, ISO 100, f/11, 1/200s

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Family Snapshot   7 comments


Two adults and a foal, the wild ponies of Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout, North Carolina

Family Snapshot

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I was going to lead off today with a different image from our kayak trip to Cape Lookout, but the wild ponies of Shackleford Banks keep calling to me today.

Just a few feet away from the male featured in Bad Hair Day, were these two adults keeping a close watch over the young’n. They never let her stray too far from the herd, and usually kept her positioned between adults.

I’m not sure what it is that draws us so much to babies, whether it’s ponies, puppies, people, or elephants. Is it just the cuteness factor? A sense of innocence and wonder? Perhaps there’s a certain freshness and playfulness to them, but I can never seem to get enough. I snapped quite a number of frames of this group and the foal as they walked toward and along the beach, disappearing into the sand dunes.

Hand-held single frame from Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 70-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/500s

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Bad Hair Day   10 comments


The dominant male in a group of wild ponies on Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout, North Carolina, NC

Bad Hair Day

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This seemed like an appropriate picture for a Monday morning.

Last week in NC, we got a brief reprieve from stifling heat and the tides were just right, so we took our kayaks down to Shell Point on Harker’s Island for one of our favorite trips out to Cape Lookout.

The ‘interestingness’ factor is almost always high on the route, and we keep an eye out for loggerhead turtles, dolphins, a vast array of bird life, and the famous wild ponies of Shackleford Banks. It is suspected that the ponies first arrived on Shack’ from Spain via Hispaniola in the 16th century, swimming ashore from shipwrecked boats that ran afoul of Cape Lookout.

While we didn’t see any dolphins on this trip (Flipper, or Flip Her), as soon as we rounded the end of the Banks, we noticed a small herd of wild ponies walking along the sand flats caused by the low tide. This gave me the opportunity to approach within a reasonable but respectful distance, using my long lens to capture this and other shots that you’ll see coming up in the near future. The group included a young foal, and the adults in the group always seemed to position themselves to protect the young one.

This pony seemed to be the dominant male of the group, and when I shuffled one step closer, he dropped his head low, pawed the ground once, and let me know that I should back away slowly, which I did.

Hand-held single exposure, Nikon D7000, Nikkor 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/5.6, 1/640, 300mm

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Flipper, or Flip Her   1 comment


Susan paddles a kayak at sunset with dolphins swimming around her boat.

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My thanks go out to Theaterwiz for his invaluable help with editing this image. We agreed that some of the glare and reflection was bothersome, so he applied his skills in helping to knock it back. It’s his title, too. If you are not familiar with Theaterwiz’s fantastic HDR work (play?), please be sure to follow the above link to his Flickr photostream. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.  Be sure to check out his “Empress” series… it’s really innovative and funny.

Susan and I were returning from a gorgeous day of kayaking near Cape Lookout, NC, (“She Walks on Water“) when a pod of dolphins started playing and feeding right around our boats. Even though we were running late, it’s not a scene that one runs from, so we floated quietly while they did their thing. It’s pretty wild: They surface all around the boats, but you’re never really sure exactly where, or when they’ll come up. Occasionally they’ll get frisky and do some aerial work.

Though it’s a wonderful sight, we’re always careful, as these guys can flip an unwary kayaker. One morning, Susan was almost swamped when a large pod of dolphins passed directly underneath her boat, pushing a bow wake of considerable size.

Help keep her upright by viewing this large in a new window on my galleries.

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If you love dolphins as much as we do, please visit the website for The Cove. Rick O’Barry was the dolphin trainer who conditioned all the dolphins for the flipper TV series, and was fairly well singularly responsible for popularizing the current dolphin industry. He has done a 180-degree turn, though, and is trying to stop the yearly dolphin slaughter in Japan.  It’s a great cause, and a dramatic, compelling movie.

You can follow updates from the people behind The Cove on Twitter at CoveMovie_Ops

She Walks On Water   2 comments


Susan, walking with her kayak along a sandbar near Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks, North Carolina
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One of the great things about living in this part of North Carolina is that we’re surrounded by water. Not that it’s all deep water, mind you, but the area around Cape Lookout and the Pamlico Sound is ripe with opportunities for world-class kayaking trips.

Yesterday was a brilliantly clear and warm day for late October, so we took advantage of the opportunity to paddle out to Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks. We paddled amongst large pods of dolphins; Loggerhead turtles visited the boats; a small island was chock full of pelicans; a family of wild ponies gave us a great photo op (and we’re still working on the model releases.) It just doesn’t get any better than this kind of day.

Here, late in the day, we encountered a sand flat that grounded the boats, so we walked part of the way home. It was okay… we were in no hurry to return.

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Processing notes:

This was taken from a single RAW image. After making some minor adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw, I brought it into Photoshop and immediately turned it over to 32 Float, from Unified Color. A few adjustments there brought it to most of what you see here. Several filters from NIK Color Efex Pro were used to jazz things up, including Polarization, Brilliance/Warmth, Gradient, and Darken/Lighten Center. A pass with Imagenomics Noiseware Pro and two sharpening passes using the LAHR/HALR technique (Tutorial), and done.  No cropping was applied; I thought the framing was just about perfect right out of the camera.
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To see this image much larger, click on the image to see it in a new window on the Waterscapes Gallery.

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