Category Archives: black & white photography

Dogs Gone Fishing

One of the best things one can experience is companionship. As pets, dogs are cherished and devoted to their owners. Years ago when I became associated with locals that fished commercially, I noticed a number of them taking dogs out on the water.

The harbor at Rodanthe was a pretty busy place back then. There were gill-netters, crabbers and long haulers working out of that spot, better known locally as The Creek. In the Summer of 1980, brothers Collins and Belton Gray ran their long haul rig out of Rodanthe. In this photo Belton, Sr and son Belton, Jr contemplate after packing out their day’s catch. I don’t recall the name of their black lab standing on the bow.

Dale Midgett ran the fish house and packed out the daily catches for Jimmy Austin Seafood Company with his loyal companion, Titus.

Another fishing friend of mine was Roger Woolyhan. He worked out of The Creek and had just begun a career in commercial fishing after moving here from Delaware in the 70’s. He bought an old wooden skiff and learned to hang his nets. I went fishing with him a number of times and got one of my favorite shots in Spring of 1977.

His female black lab was named Moose. She went everywhere with him fishing, surfing or shopping. It made no difference to her, as long as she was close.

By 1987 after I had finished building my home in Waves, a regular visitor was a young boy named Brian Midgett. He and his extended family lived on property adjacent to mine, and still do. My Chesapeake Bay Retriver named Boca loved Brian and they frequently played in the creek behind his grandparents’ place. Boca always wanted to be in the water.

Boca was a big, beautiful Chessie and I took him whenever I foraged the sound for oysters. When he found a terrapin trapped in this abandoned crab pot, we released the poor struggling critter.

Another creek in Salvo belonged to Burgess Hooper. He was born, raised and fished there all his life. With his wife Zanovah, they owned property and rental units. I used to help him on maintenance and building projects. We were pretty close and he loved his canine companion, Princess. She fished with him every time he went out on the Pamlico Sound.

Burgess was an old school Hatterasman and still fished with traditional cotton nets.

Princess anticipating catches from the bow, had sea legs. She was truly a man’s best friend… unconditionally!

 

Some Outer Banks Photographers

When I made Hatteras Island my home 44 years ago, there were hardly any working photographers around. The few established photographers were folks like Charles D’Amours who ran a little studio in Manteo. He and his wife also sold art supplies, and that’s where I started getting all my mat board. They were an elderly couple and several years later retired and left the scene.

The most well known photographer was Aycock Brown. He photographed extensively and I regarded him more of a publicist than an artist. He shot social events and could always be spotted at the marina when charter boats arrived. His straw hat was a signature trademark and his images have become an important historical record of times gone by. I can still see him peering down into the viewfinder of a Yashica twin lens reflex.

In Buxton, Ray Couch owned and operated The Red Drum. It was a full service gas station and tackle shop. Located near Cape Point, he specialized in recording fishermen’s catches. His photographs promoted the island’s great fishing and doubtless brought many anglers to Hatteras Island. My understanding is that much of his work was either lost or destroyed.

Then there was Jim Lee. Anyone taking pictures here at that time was sure to know him. He had the only camera store within 50 miles. Jim’s Camera House was where we all went to buy film, chemicals, cameras or to have film processed. I think Jim took pride in being a sage, elder statesman of local photographers. It was the gleam in his eye that said it all.

Henry Applewhite was another. He lived in Manteo and did mostly commercial photography using medium format. I remember watching him do some advertising food shots with studio lights at the Seafare Restaurant, where I worked briefly as a dishwasher.

A photographer that really caught my eye though was Foster Scott. He was about my age and was fully involved doing promotional work for the Dare County Tourist Bureau. His pictures were always in the Coastland Times and they stood out both from a technical and artistic perspective. He was a master at photographing people, scenery and landscapes.

All these photographers were shooting almost exclusively in black and white. I aspired to shoot and print in color, and good fortune connected me with Ray Matthews. He also worked at the Seafare Restaurant as a waiter. We hit it off becoming close friends, and we both desired to make photography our life’s work. It was fortuitous that our birthdays landed on the same day.

Ray and I frequently celebrated our birthdays together. On that day in 1979, I made his portrait with a 4×5 view camera alongside a water cistern at Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station.

In 1980, Ray Matthews, Foster Scott and I embarked on a 3-day camping trip to Beacon Island in Pamlico Sound. From our base camp there, we made excursions in a 14 foot skiff to other islands, including Portsmouth Village. I used the self-timer on my Nikon F2 to make this shot of the 3 of us resting on the front porch of the Henry Pigott house. Foster is on the left with me in the middle, and Ray crashed out on the right. We were famished.

This shot of Ray was taken on that same trip. Sometimes we worked in the same competitive market, but over the years, Ray has been a big influence on my own photography.

Another photographer soon began to make his mark on the Outer Banks. Drew Wilson worked as a staff photographer for the Virginia Pilot. I admired his coverage of the region, and I still regard him as one of the best. In 1986, I made this photo of him while he was shooting an assignment about bird banding. Totally immersed in his subject, he worked hands-on handling this young pelican while John Weske crimped a band over the leg of the bird. Drew has since moved on to the New Bern area for his journalistic work.

Now in the digital age, photography has spread to the masses. Today everyone can be a photographer, however making it a livelihood is another thing.

 

Self-Portraits

These days selfies seem to be a big deal. They’re devoted primarily to social media sites. I suppose it’s a form of self portraiture, but despite the urging of friends and colleagues, other than this blog, I have never subscribed to social media. I have however, made self portraits ever since I’ve been using a camera.

I suspect the self portrait goes back as far as early man painting on cave walls. It’s certainly something the classic art masters did occasionally. What drives the urge is anyone’s guess, but self portraits have much to say about the person making them. It may be egotistical or just playful. My involvement has been sporadic yet impulsive.

Glenn Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head has hosted an artist self-portrait exhibition for 22 years. This year’s show runs from April 1 through May 11, and it’s always entertaining and fun. One of my previous entries was shot in 1974 while I took my 1964 Volkswagen searching for waves on Ocracoke Island. Once I reduced air pressure in the tires, my Microbus easily went anywhere on the beach. With a tripod-mounted Yashica, I tripped the shutter using the self timer and Pan-X film.

For this year’s entry I chose a self-inflicted photo from 2013 when I was attending a seminar in Washington, DC. After a day of hearing some presentations by some of the world’s finest photographers, I found myself socializing with a few others at the beautiful home of Tim Kelly the National Geographic Society president. After a while, I excused myself to the restroom on the main floor.

Going inside I was immediately captivated by the effect of mirrors on all four walls of the tiny room. I have not really been one of those photographers taking their camera everywhere, but this was an exception. I put on my best passport face and shot with a Panasonic GF1.

Greatest Generation

Coined by journalist Tom Brokaw, those that grew up through the depression and then experienced the Second World War are known as the Greatest Generation. They were also the parents of baby boomers like me.

1942

My mother and father married in Annapolis in 1942, after dad joined the Navy. Early on, he was gone a lot, and mom was on her own taking care of the babies. A few years after I was born, we moved from California to Japan. There were tours in the states, Newfoundland and Guam. We moved around as a military family, and it was an interesting life growing up. There were trials and tribulations, but it was the time of our lives.

Dad passed away in 2001, five months before 9-11. Mom died just recently on April 12th at the age of 92. She lives on in me and my siblings. With Mothers Day approaching, I recall a poem I read to her recently. It was written by a dear friend, Louis Richard Batzler.

TO MOTHER

In your womb you formed my body,

At birth in your pain you released me,

To begin my earthly journey,

To manifest my destiny,

Then in my helpless infancy,

You nursed, nurtured wonderfully,

My body, mind and spirit gently,

As years went by so swiftly,

Your presence ever lovingly,

Guided and guarded my ways,

Throughout my nights and days,

With countless unheralded displays,

Of kind care and encouraging praise,

How can I express my gratitude,

For the magnitude and multitude,

Of all the ways you blessed my being?

It’s beyond all speaking and all seeing,

Such thankfulness is ineffable,

I can only say my heart is full,

Of love for you and that you shall be,

Always present in my memory,

For such a love as yours for me,

Lives on throughout eternity.

 

Winter Storm

Last week, forecasters predicted a low pressure system to develop into a major winter storm for the east coast. Things turned out as expected with snow dumped to the north of us in dramatic amounts. At home, we had just over an inch of cold rain backed by some gale force winds. Oceanfront properties were threatened by large waves but little damage. Sound front properties saw tide surges of about 3 feet as west winds kicked in.

houseOn Saturday the seas were still running with strong westerlies blowing into the swells. This house at Mirlo Beach was awfully close to the action.

wavesThe surf and clouds were stunning.

offshoreWave tops were feathering nicely.

cemeterySadly on the sound side, seas were once again beating the shoreline at an old family cemetery in the Salvo day use area. Headstones and crypts were inundated and falling in the water. Other than that, this winter storm posed no serious problems.

The biggest winter storm I’ve seen here occurred 35 years ago in March of 1980. A coastal low was right on us as temperatures plummeted below freezing, accompanied by a foot of snow with northeast winds gusting to a hundred miles an hour. The blizzard brought white out conditions with zero visibility. Sea tide mixed with floating ice and snow flowed through Rodanthe.

hwy 12Bruce Midgett rescued Robin Gerald from his old house surrounded by 3 feet of tide and drove him to higher ground.

cottageThe Queen Cottage was one of the few oceanfront houses in north Rodanthe. I took this picture from the roof of my place with a 400mm lens. The cottage was eventually washed away in a later storm and no longer exists.

oceanAs seas washed around the Queen Cottage, I shot this picture from the deck. The ocean was breaking all the way to the horizon.

my houseLooking back from the Queen Cottage I photographed my house amid streets of sea water and ice.

I had never seen a storm like that before, nor have I seen one quite like it since.