February 21, 2017

The Writing on the Wall

Growing up as a Navy dependent, I was almost always near the ocean. Yet I never met a commercial fisherman until I moved to Hatteras Island. My first encounter was in 1974 when a new found friend, Bruce Midgett, took me along to fish his gill nets off Bay Landing, south of Salvo.

I brought my Yashica camera along and took a few shots. I’ve always been excited looking at this picture of Bruce holding a nice speckled trout. It revealed another world to me and I’ve embraced the small commercial fisherman ever since.

Early one morning in 1978, 65 year-old Burgess Hooper took me fishing on the Pamlico Sound. I was impressed at his knowledge and vitality out on the water.

                                My favorite shot came later that morning while Burgess hauled in his favorite cotton net, made for catching bluefish. He always took Princess with him. She was just as anxious to see what was caught. Burgess passed away about ten years later, and a week after that Princess died.

In 1977, my good friend Roger Wooleyhan was also fishing the Pamlico Sound and he always took his faithful black lab, Moose.

Calm water usually means not much of a catch, but the glassy conditions always make for a pleasant boat ride.

                              A 1985 assignment for an Outer Banks Magazine story, hooked me up with crabber Scott Bridges pulling his pots near Hatteras Inlet.

The labor of a commercial fisherman never ends. Maintenance of gear is a constant. I happened to visit Bruce Midgett at home in 1982 as he was mending a pound net.

In the Fall of 1982 I was driving by Bay Landing and stopped to watch Raymond Midgett and his son Robin, also known as Tater, hauling in after drifting a gill net.

The Spring of 1980, I tried a stint at commercial fishing and did okay. As I was fishing a net, Burgess Hooper dropped by to say hello. A week later my motor broke down and he had to tow me in. The commercial fishermen looked out for one another and generously gave fish to their friends and neighbors.

Today with commercial fishing, the writing is on the wall. Times have changed. They are being more regulated and eventually their livelihoods will be jeopardized, if not gone. I’ve been a witness to something that will not happen again as it did decades ago.

 

January 27, 2017

Mr. President

Filed under: Fishing,People — j0jgvm89bj @ 4:04 pm

Most think that I’m strictly a nature photographer. That does account for much of my shooting, but I also delve into other things as opportunities arise.

With the 41st President of the United States in the news recently, it made me recall some shooting I did in the Florida Keys. In 1995 I was invited to photograph a fundraising fishing tournament in Islamorada hosted by the Cheeca Lodge.

Known as the George Bush-Cheeca Lodge Bonefish Tournament, this was the second of an annual event to benefit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, as well numerous deserving non-profit organizations.

My job was to cover the fishing, ceremonies and socializing surrounding the two day event. It was a privilege to photograph it for 9 consecutive years until the final tournament in 2003.

tennisThe first time I met the former President was on a tennis court with superstar Chris Everett.

greetingPresident Bush was socially engaging with everyone, and I felt comfortable around him.

casting 2Days out on the water were long, especially if the fish weren’t biting. This was my first year shooting the tournament and his fishing partner was former Secretary of Treasury, Nicholas Brady. Their man at the helm was legendary fishing guide, George Hommell.

castingThey got a good casting workout but were unable to find the elusive bonefish.

GowdyThe master of ceremonies for the entire event was Curt Gowdy, and what an unforgettable voice he had!

fish onIn 1999, President Bush hooked one of the largest bonefish of the tournament.

1999 catch                        It was a beauty caught with guide extraordinaire, Al Polofsky assisting. George Hommell on the left, was also on board. The fish was weighed and released.

2002 catchIn 2002 it was cool and blustery when he proudly came up with his last tournament bonefish.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. President!

 

December 26, 2016

Days of Old Christmas Past

Filed under: history,Outer Banks,oysters,People — j0jgvm89bj @ 2:37 pm

When I first moved to Rodanthe, I heard about Old Christmas. It took me a while to understand the roots of this tradition and it’s anachronism to modern times. Dating back perhaps 200 years, it has much to do with the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar and the isolation of the Outer Banks.

I’ve enjoyed Old Christmas over the years and have never seen anything quite like it. These days it consists of an oyster roast, dinner, music, dancing and anything that might come with it.

Decades old photographs that I shot at the event have become windows into a vintage past. Most of the pictures shown here were taken in 1985.

j-henryLocals gathered at the Community Building parking lot to begin celebrating. Anderson Midgett is on the far right checking out a shotgun. Jim Henry, the grey-haired man in the middle who did much at Chicamacomico Station, loved mingling with the crowd.

timIt almost took a village to start a fire for roasting salty oysters. Tim Merritt looks on as Larry Midgett and Rudy Gray get cooking.

dbBill Midgett, DB Midgett and John Edgar Herbert tailgated at the oyster shoot.

larryLarry Midgett took aim to win a bushel of oysters.

jobob“Jobob” Fegundes and Bruce Midgett shared responsibilities over the fire.

macEveryone enjoyed the oyster roast, including Mac and Steve Midgett.

old-buckAnd of course the culmination was the appearance of Old Buck, here being led by John Edgar. There are 2 well-known photographers in this shot too. Drew Wilson, a staff photographer for the Virginian Pilot is on the right wearing a brown hat. David Alan Harvey, a staffer for National Geographic, is behind the man in the tan sweater sitting on the stage. David was loading more film. So I was shooting in good company that night.

This year Old Christmas will be on January 7th, beginning with an afternoon oyster shoot, and continuing into the night.

In Rodanthe, Christmas is celebrated twice a year.

November 24, 2016

Indian Summer

Filed under: beach,night photography,Outer Banks — j0jgvm89bj @ 1:58 pm

With 2 tropical systems topping off our summer season, it’s been a relief to see the past several weeks of unusually warm, dry weather. I’ve always loved a nice Indian Summer. For those that live here, it means more time outdoors doing what we enjoy.

Right before the cold seasonal weather set in, I made my way out to the beach to take in the end of another beautiful day.

camperDriving out over Ramp 23 near Salvo, I was struck at the scene before me, and I had to take a picture. The beach was nearly empty, except for a couple with a camper out fishing. I’m sure for them, life was good.

time-exposureOnce the sun had completely set, I broke out my camera with a 30 mm lens on a tripod. I stopped down to f/22 and made some bracketed time exposures. This shot had the shutter open for 3 seconds.

Happy Thanksgiving, wish you were here.

 

 

October 17, 2016

Matthew’s Lesson

Filed under: Outer Banks,Pamlico Sound,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 6:41 pm

With technological advances, weather forecasting has become better and better, but it’s still an inexact science. Nothing could teach that much more than Hurricane Matthew. Watching the weather radar and getting updates, tropical cyclones almost become living organisms. They are complex, and influenced by multiple meteorological mechanisms.

I’ve learned to take forecasting with some reservation, because most storm track predictions change over time as different atmospheric conditions interact. Here at home, I began monitoring Matthew as it became a hurricane on September 29th.

When Cape Hatteras was in the cone of possibility, I thought of boarding my windows, but overnight the forecast changed heading it out to sea, well to our south, even circling back toward Florida. Matthew defied that forecast, deviated somewhat, but continued its northward march along the coast. Still predicted to turn seaward, it headed northeast toward Cape Hatteras, and I was hoping it wouldn’t go up the Pamlico Sound, like Irene. Despite the warnings, our Dare County Control Group decided not to call for an evacuation of tourists or residents, and it turned out to be a bad decision.

Waiting for the turn that didn’t come, I went to bed Saturday night with a lowering barometric reading of 994 millibars. Onshore gale force winds blew that night with a little rain. Morning became more calm until about 5 AM, when we were awakened with an abrupt change of wind direction from the north and gusts near 90.

Matthew, despite predictions to be a tropical storm was still a hefty category one hurricane as it caromed off the Cape and out into the open Atlantic. By the time I checked the barometer again it was daylight and read 986 millibars. The wind gradually subsided throughout the day.

It was a close call for residents of Waves. Most everyone underestimated what this storm would do, and it could have been a lot worse for us. Our neighbors in Hatteras and Ocracoke were not so lucky.

soundEven at 11 that morning, the Pamlico Sound was still pretty rough.

houseI designed my house to shed gales from the north, so it fared well. There was  some standing rain water, a few broken branches and that’s it.

center-line                                 The tide rose just enough to overflow the ditches and spill over on to the highway.

ncdotWorkers from NCDOT are always on the scene quickly, salt water or not.

beachThe ocean was not as much a problem as was the Pamlico Sound.

uprootedThe main damage was with uprooted trees….

outer-beaches…. and broken, blown over signs.

truckThe biggest signs went down the hardest.

sunsetThe day ended better than it began, with a sailors’ red sky delight.