January 6, 2013

Cape Fear Sunset

[singlepic id=2108 w=750 float=center]

I didn’t expect to get approached by security when I set up to get this shot last Friday afternoon. After all, it was off-season at Fort Fisher State Park in South Kure Beach, NC. We were the only souls, our group of about 8 family members. We were walking the perimeter of the park around sunset. I was the only one shooting, so I was looking for the perfect spot to shoot the show.

On the edge of the park property was a sign that read: “Maintenance Area. Keep Out.” Beyond the sign, a wooded area with these gorgeous Live Oaks overlooking the marsh and the Cape Fear River. I thought they would make the perfect frame for the approaching sunset, so I crossed the line and started setting up. I did not think for a moment that there would be any security patrolling the wooded “maintenance area” but sure enough, within a minute a green, official looking SUV rumbled down the dirt road. The driver rolled down his window and greeted me with a smile and a pleasant “Good evening.” I returned his greeting, convinced he was going to just continue on making his rounds.

“I’m going to have to ask you to step beyond the line,” he added.

I’m not sure if the confusion in my head translated to a puzzled look on my face, but I responded, “Really?”

“Afraid so,” he said. He then applied some salt to the wound … “Its a lovely night for photography, isn’t it?”

I was completely bewildered. After all, it was the middle of winter, late in the day, with nobody around except a few family members, lawfully standing on the “right” side of the line. But the bottom line is, I was technically in violation, so I complied and Mr. Buzzkill drove back into the woods.

But I couldn’t let the shot go. I stood lawfully on the not illegal side until the sun dipped below the horizon. Then I scurried into “the badlands” and grabbed a couple of quick shots.

I posted a version of this on Facebook earlier, but this is a do-over. I originally tonemapped the image in Photomatix then popped it onto Facebook. After careful consideration, I reworked it using the Photomatix “Merge to 32-Bit HDR” plugin and tonemapped it in Lightroom. I added a slight glow in onOne Perfect Photo Effects.

Be sure to click on the image for a larger version.

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  1. You sir, are a badass! That good officer would be mighty pissed if he knew what you did. This version is quite a bit better. The re-process clears up a bit of Photomatix weirdness around the branch silhouettes.

  2. Gee, the things we go through to be creative and contribute to the beauty of the world. πŸ™‚

    This is an awesome image with sheer beauty, Bob. Glad the story ended well.

  3. The simple pleasures of doing what you are not supposed to do! Why is it the best shots are always from a place we are not supposed to visit? Great story and a great shot, Bob!