As I was walking between the dunes, heading to one of the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore during a recent Outer Banks landscape photography workshop, I was struck once again with the topography of the place. I’ve been there before. I know what it looks like. But in those predawn moments, I was reminded again of just how unique it is, at least in this part of the world.
The workshop was actually a class on landscape composition, taught by Richard Bernabe, a well-known nature and wildlife photographer, author, and educator. COVID-19 put a little dent in his usual program for this workshop, but I came away with some images that I am happy with, some new ideas and more things to develop in the future.
Choose your Workshops Carefully
I’ve spoken before about the value of workshops and photography instruction. But it’s important to know that they’re not all the same. To get the most out of a potential workshop, it’s important to understand what your goals are, and then be sure that the event will help you achieve them. Is it a genre (landscapes, portraits, macro, astrophotography, etc.) that interests you? Does the skill level required match your level of experience? Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned photographer, there are workshops for you, but you would be very frustrated by going to something directed toward people who are either much more advanced than you or toward those still taking the steps you accomplished years ago.
Consider the purpose of the workshop. Some are teaching events. Others are simply tours designed to get you to the best photographic opportunities. That’s not to say that one is better than the other, but they are certainly different.
You’ll want to consider the workshop leader, too. Not everyone who teaches is qualified. Read the reviews of others who have participated in previous workshops. Do your best to hear the person teach via YouTube or a podcast to determine if his or her style is a good match for you. Finally, you need to be sure that the workshop leader knows the area well.
I chose this particular Outer Banks landscape photography workshop specifically because of the workshop leader. Richard Bernabe has literally written the book (well, a book) on landscape composition. He’s been to the Outer Banks many times and not only knows where to go, but where to go when the weather or the skies or the conditions rule out his initial plans. More than that, Richard teaches in a way that makes sense to me. He is far more creative than I am, but it is easy for me to see his vision and then work from there.
Light and Color on the Outer Banks
More than anything, I suppose, light is what makes the difference between average landscape photos and good ones. As landscape photographers, we are at the mercy of whatever the skies offer us on a given day. We can plan our compositions, bring the right gear, arrive at the “right” time, and know how to adjust our settings, but if the light is bland, there is little we can do about it. On the other hand, sometimes the light is better than we could have imagined. That was certainly the case last weekend.
The first evening there were no clouds in sight at sunset. Generally, clouds make a better sunset picture, but the glow in the sky after the sun slipped below the horizon more than made up for their absence. Using a bit of a tree, I was able to frame the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, catching the light as it moved past me.
- Nikon D810
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
- 135 mm
- ISO 64
- 1.6 seconds at f/14
On the other hand, the sky put on an incredible show a couple of nights later, as we shot this shipwreck which has now become a part of the shoreline.
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
1/4 bracketed at f/8 and f/16
Those are two of my favorite shots from the event. I’ll let you browse the others as you see fit. In all cases, you can click to enlarge them. All of them are available as prints or canvasses. Just click on the shopping cart. If you would prefer some other medium let me know. (I am planning on printing that shipwreck on metal, personally, though I think a metallic print on paper would look good, too.) Images are lower resolution here in order to load more quickly, but all printing is full resolution, of course. If you have questions, or comments, feel free to reach out, either in the comments below or more directly here.
These images of the Outer Banks Landscape Photography Workshop, like all the images on this site, are copyrighted and owned by Robert Clay Photography. No images are to be removed, copied, borrowed, or otherwise taken from this site. Limited licenses are available (sometimes without charge). Any usage without the express permission and appropriate license represents a breach of US copyright law.