Archive for the ‘hurricane’ Tag

Squash Is Both a Noun and a Verb   5 comments

Squash Is Both a Noun and a Verb

The ironic thing is that we had a Trombocino squash garden growing under those Leyland Cypress trees… you know, the bushy trees that are nearly horizontal. Neither made it.

This was the scene as we went out the back door on Sunday morning after Hurricane Irene. The winds had blown hard out of the north, which is on the left side of the picture. About 12 years ago we planted three Leylands to soften the shed, never really expecting that they’d grow to 40-50′, nor be that lush. Sadly for them, all the dense foliage acted like a sail, so they were the first to go. Just off-frame to the left, there are two others that are down. There goes our privacy hedge.

There’s an old poem from Japanese poet and Samurai, Mizuta Masahide:

Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.

While we lament the passing of these magnificent trees, we’re excited that the loss opens up an opportunity for us to plant new gardens or fruit tree guilds. For those following the story, the image The Vegitect was taken with my back to the shed, near where the grill is standing. And although the annual gardens have been a blast this year, we have plans to pull up the remaining grass and develop a permaculture (polyculture) food forest throughout the backyard in the coming years.

Another thought that struck me during this storm: Although the property is pretty ripped up, I consider this to be what I call “a first-world problem.” There are many people farther north of us who are still coping with record flooding situations, with some towns simply washed away. We’ve got issues down here, but nothing like some of those more northern places. I would hope that everyone who reads this could reach down and donate a bit to the American Red Cross, or other disaster relief organization, in order to help out those in need, particularly since funds at FEMA are about to be heavily politicized (Boooo!) Having been on the receiving end of the equation in the past, I can tell you that nothing is more welcome than seeing good people come to the rescue.

Please help.

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Where Do Hummingbirds Go During a Hurricane?   8 comments

A hummingbird works a hyacinth flower shortly after Hurricane Irene hit North Carolina

Where Do Hummingbirds Go... ©2011 Rob Hanson

We’re back up and online… at least for the moment. As you may know, our town in North Carolina was the first to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irene on 8.27.11 We took a direct hit, as we so often seem to do, and it has taken this long to clear the debris and get power restored, although service is still a bit spotty. We lost all the trees in our yard save for one.

While the storm winds were not a severe as we’ve taken in the past — NC seems to be a hurricane magnet — the size and duration were larger than I’ve ever seen. Winds started picking up on Friday night, we lost power in the middle of the night, and landfall occurred on Saturday. Even toward sunset on Saturday, the winds were still whistling through the shingles.

The combined effect of heavy rain and extended strong winds caused a lot of tree damage in the area. Fortunately, most structures stayed intact, but the number of downed trees and power lines is just stunning. Even as of Wednesday morning, there are still quite a number of people without power.

We might have been the lucky ones. Up north in New York and Vermont, the damage from heavy rainfall is incredible and sad. I think they fared much worse up there. It goes to show that with these tropical storms, you never can take them too lightly.

Shortly after the storm, we went out to inspect the area and were pleased to hear birds chirping, as well as a pair of hummingbirds that have called our yard home.

We were left wondering: Where do hummingbirds go for protection from 90MPH winds? They’re so light and fragile, it seems impossible, but the next day, they went right back to work. Incredible.

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“Should I Stay or Should I Go”   11 comments


(With apologies to The Clash for shamelessly ripping off their song title.)

We’re likely to be offline for a while, but before that, I thought I’d post a pretty picture with lots of nice colors. While it is not my original image, I think it tells a story nonetheless.

A number of readers have written to wish us well, commending us to stay safe. Thank you very much, all, for the notes. We appreciate them very, very much.

Anytime we have an approaching storm like Hurricane Irene, we’re faced with a difficult decision on whether to bug out, or not. The last time we fled from a storm — Hurricane Floyd —  we went to Asheville, on the western end of the state. The effects of H. Floyd were benign out there, and the drive back east was uneventful… until we hit Kinston, a town only 45 minutes to the west of our house. It was there that an overpass over a feeder creek was flooded, and we could go no further. As it turned out, Floyd dumped 19″ of rain in eastern NC within a very short time period, completely swamping the area. That night, at what seemed like the last possible minute, the police opened up one lane of the bridge to eastbound traffic, and we crawled through to get home. But, we couldn’t get back out until the swamp drained many weeks later.

We’ll likely ride this one out here at home, but I’m certainly not looking forward to it. It’s probably going to rip our gardens all to hell, at the very least, and we’re likely to be without power for a couple of days. Actually, I’m more concerned for the people up north, particularly on Long Island. The ground is wet, there are few escape routes, and it looks like they’ll get a direct hit from a Cat-2, which is bound to cause problems.

These things are stressful for everyone, and I hope for the best, for everyone. I’ll be doing my best to Zen my way through it, realizing that there is no inherent meaning in events like this (aside what we might assign), but that it is simply the way the world works, and we have no control whatsoever in the face of the storm. I’m sure I could extend the metaphor a bit, but it’s not yet Philosophy Friday, so I’ll spare you. 🙂

(Oh, by the way, we lie just west and north of Morehead City, about where the pretty orange line crosses the first inland river.)

Posted August 25, 2011 by Rob Hanson Photography in documentary

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“Determination”   3 comments

A surfer plies hurricane swell during Hurricane Earl, near Oceanana Pier, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina


A surfer plies the storm swell from Hurricane Earl, off the Oceanana Pier in Atlantic Beach, on the Crystal Coast in North Carolina.

This is an HDR image, although there clearly isn’t a great deal of dynamic range available. It was processed with both Photomatix Pro 4 beta — available to all — and another beta HDR program that is not yet released.

If I have one issue these days, it’s choosing between the various HDR programs available, and which to apply to a given image. All of the programs are really strong, and each has its own distinct capability or style. Each also has its not so great points, so sometimes you have to find one with a nice balance.  Other times, you can process an image with different HDR programs, and then combine the results using layers and masks in Photoshop.

Such is the case here. I really liked what Photomatix Pro 4 beta did with the textures and definition in the water, but, as expected, it didn’t treat the surfer (i.e., skin tones) quite as well. Even the tonemapping of the water needed just a little something.  I could have also taken a pass with HDR Expose from Unified Color, or better yet, their new 32 Float plug-in for Photoshop, but I’m testing another new HDR product, so I decided to try that one.

Choosing between various presets available, I found one that came close to the look I wanted, and I then adjusted the sliders to balance definition, color, and contrast, with an eye to ‘keeping it real.’  Perfect.  Combining the Photomatix results with the second pass results allowed me to a) patch in the surfer the way I wanted, and b) blend the two environments — water, foam, wave — to good effect.

This multiple pass approach certainly takes a lot of time — more time than I’d prefer to spend. But I think that as time goes on, one can develop an eye for a specific image and immediately know which program would do the best job at rendering for the artist’s desired result.

And yet, that’s just one aspect of post-processing.  Now… which filters to apply? 8)

Although it makes one want to do a 365 project of nothing but SOOC shots, it’s nice to sit back and look at the final product while thinking, “That’s cool… I hope others enjoy this.”

I hope you do.


Still Standing   1 comment

Image of Hurricane Earl at Oceana Pier in Atlantic Beach, NC. Large swells engulf the pier.

Oceanana Pier made it through the night.

Hurricane Earl passed by Atlantic Beach, NC, on September 2nd, 2010.  This was taken shortly after the owners of Oceanana Pier closed off access to the pier, for good reason. The crowd of spectators that had been gathered at the end of the pier to watch the waves and surfers quickly reconvened on the beach. When you’re standing so close to these powerful waves, it seems that you just can’t stop watching, and you’re sure that next wave will be even bigger and more badass than the last.

Oceanana Pier is one of the last remaining fishing piers on Emerald Isle.  Whereas there were once a good number of piers all along Emerald Isle, relentless hurricanes and even more relentless real estate development have caused the removal of all but three — Oceanana, the Sheraton Pier, and the Bogue Inlet Pier. In addition to being great places to fish, the piers also create nice wave breaks for surfers. Now that so many piers have been removed, it’s causing large crowds of surfers as they bunch up to take advantage of the few good remaining surf spots.

You can see a live-feed cam of this pier by clicking here

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