Going in for a swim.

This image is part of the OBX sunrise series.

However, this image spoke to me and said that it was worthy of a post all its’ own.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I see things in images that not everyone else does…  And, yes, I do believe that a picture can say a thousand words.

When you’re shooting (well, at least this happens to me), you don’t always notice everything that’s happening in an image at the time you’re making it.  It’s also likely that not every happening and every detail stands out to you when you look at it on your camera screen.  And sometimes, you really don’t see everything the first time you see it on your monitor.

Somewhere along the way – it hits you!  “It” can be a lot of things.

“It” hit me in this case as I was preparing the OBX sunrise post.

Going in for a swim isn’t always just going in for a swim.  Have you ever sat on a beach and seen a young child run towards the water, arms raised in excitement and anticipation?  Or seen someone on their first visit to the ocean doing the same thing?  If you take a breath and pause to savor the moment, it is a special moment to share, if only from a distance.

As I was going through the images, I noticed something in the lower left corner of this image that had eluded me before.  Yes, there are the “big things” in this image.  There’s the golden glow of the sun.  The nuanced textures of the water and the waves.  Footprints in the sand.  There’s a lot going on here if you take the time to ponder the image, and not just look at it.

And, there’s what appears to be a sea gull in silhouette from the rising sun, it’s wings casting soft shadows.  He or she is in mid-stride heading towards the water, wings outstretched like a child.  Was it the anticipation of the morning swim?  The excitement to catch a wave?  The awe and energy of a new day?

I’d prefer to think that it was one of those instead of an early morning stretch!

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What do you think was happening here?

The full image can be viewed by clicking here.  You can find the sunrise gallery by clicking here.

It could look great on your wall.  Or on a mug.  Or a water bottle…

OBX Sunrise

On a clear morning, there are few things like an OBX sunrise.  OBX is the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Don’t know where it originated or when, but it’s saves keystrokes so I’ll take it.

(And yes, to those of you who’ve seen it up and down the east coast, it’s beautiful everywhere!)

If there is no haze or clouds, it’s a pure unadultered and unobstructed sunrise – the sky lights up and the sun edges its’ way above the horizon.  It doesn’t take all that long to happen either – all of the OBX sunrise photos added to the sunrises gallery on Laughing Frog Images were taken within a span of 15 minutes.

If you’re lucky like I was, pelicans, sea gulls and other shore birds will fly through your viewfinder and you’ll end up with the birds in silhouette.

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Making your own sunrise over the water images like this is fairly easy.  First, take the rule about not shooting into the sun and ignore it.  Second, select a low ISO,  Third, select a high shutter speed.  Fourth, select a medium to high aperture.  Then, shoot away!  Vary your exposures by a stop or two up and down so that you get a broad selection of images to choose from.

The image above was made at ISO 100, 1/1000 second, and f8.

If you’re shooting with a smartphone, tablet, or point and shoot, and you can select the exposure point – pick right in the enter of the sun streak on the water.  Then, move the selection point up, down, left and right so that you’ve got several different exposures to choose from.

If you like sunrises, check out the sunrise gallery.

If you like OBX sunrises, or any sunrises for that matter, but can’t get to the shore to photograph them yourself – well, we’ve got you covered – and covered for 25% off of sunrises and everything else on Laughing Frog Images through December 15, 2015.

Pelican Perception Put to Rest

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d always thought that when waterborne birds of prey entered the water, they did so in a sleek and streamlined manner.

That was until I was able to photograph a pelican purposely pursuing breakfast one morning at the Outer Banks.

Naturally, the pelican couldn’t cooperate by being close enough to shore so that I could end up with images good enough to post in the galleries, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

So there I was, shooting away as the purposeful plunge progressed (notice that for some reason I’ve decided it’s time use the letter “P” a lot?) towards the water.

It wasn’t until I was able to see everything on a computer screen that I realized that I managed to catch a pelican at the point of surface penetration…

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At first I thought this was a speck on the lens, or worse, my sensor. Surely it wasn’t a bird, because, well, it looks like it’s going to crash, and crash bad.

But that wasn’t the case at all…

As I zoomed in, I realized that my timing was fantastic – its’ beak is just breaking the water.

And I realized that all of my perceptions about grace and aerodynamics and a sleek entry were, well, quite simply, pelican poop…

This isn’t anything close to graceful…

It’s not sleek.  It’s not aerodynamic.

I’m sure there’s a purposeful reason behind pelican posture at the point of aquatic entry – but it escapes me.

I can’t help but wonder how in the world this entry goes for the pelican.  Logic makes me wonder why this doesn’t tear the poor pelican to pieces.

Maybe it helps with rapid deceleration?

Maybe I saw a mutant band of pelicans that pursues an alternate form of dives?

Maybe these birds are just rugged and strong and virtually indestructible?

Maybe they’ve purposely pursued physics in an alternate perspective that places prodigious force over grace and aerodynamics?

And maybe I’m simply amazed that this is just how a pelican works, because within a few seconds, this bird popped up to the surface and rode the waves until it took off in pursuit of its’ next course.

Did this picture perhaps prompt a change of your perceptions about pelicans?

Do tell…



I struggled for a title for this post.

Beam me up.  E.T., phone home.  We’ll leave the light on for you.  I was all over the board with phrases from pop culture.

And then, simplicity hit me.


Sometimes, simple is better.

I suspect that each of you that looks at this image will see something different, and perhaps feel something different.

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Yes, this is in fact light from the moon.

It’s just after 11PM on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It’s cloudy, but the moon is out there, fighting for a chance to be seen.

And I’m out there with a tripod and cable release seeing what I can make of it.


This isn’t something you see every day.

Apart from the occasional laughter of revelers on the beach, all you could hear were the rolling waves hitting the sand.

I wonder if the revelers saw what I saw?  All I can say is that I wasn’t fighting for space to set up my tripod…

I made over 20 images of varying durations in my attempt to capture the moment.

(Good thing digital film is essentially free!)

You can see pleasure boats far out on the horizon.  How can I say that they were far out?

Well, the exposures ranged from 10 to 60 seconds, and their light trails are not that long.  They were out there…

You can see the moonbeams coming through the clouds much like the rays of the sun poke through on a cloudy, rainy day.

You can see where the cloud layer was thinner or broken – that’s where you can in fact see the clouds back lit by the moon somewhere up there.

The water looks like anything but water.  That’s the result of the long exposures.  It’s probably not how you’d envision the Atlantic Ocean looking.

But after all, it’s getting towards midnight and these are long exposures to capture the moonbeams.

There came a time when it occurred to me that there was no one else out, and that it might be time to head in.

Hoping that the images captured the moonbeams as I saw them, it was time…

So, I packed up, folded up, and picked up and called it a night.

You can find the rest of the moonbeam images here in the moon gallery on Laughing Frog Images.


If you’re so inclined, leave a comment as to which one is your favorite and why.

Technical details: Tripod, cable release, Nikon D7100, Tamron 18-270mm zoom, ISO 800, exposures from 10 to 60 seconds, f8.

Ghost Crabs

In my mind, at least until I did my research, this post was going to be called “Sand Crabs”.

So, I did what any modern researcher would do and went straight to Wikipedia and typed “sand crabs” in the search bar.

And then, I realized, it wasn’t going to be called sand crabs…

I hadn’t photographed sand crabs at all.  I had photographed Atlantic ghost crabs (Ocypode quadrata).

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Yes, you do learn something every day…

Anyway… ghost crabs are entertaining and intriguing to watch.  One wonders if they are nervous, hyperactive, stressed, or all of these.

They’re fast.  They move sideways.  They always know where their burrow is.  They adapt when their burrow is wiped out by a wave.  They can move their eyes from a vertical orientation to a horizontal orientation.  They look like E.T. when their eyes are horizontal.  They eat seaweed and things we can’t apparently see.  They vary in color and I learned that they can change color.  They look at us like we’re strange as much as we look at them and think they’re strange.  They can run really fast when there are little kids with a sand bucket and scoop chasing them.

If you find yourself on an Atlantic beach and want to photograph Atlantic ghost crabs, here are a few tips.

Sit in a low beach chair.  If you can, lie on your stomach on a towel.  Use a long zoom lens .  Don’t move much – they don’t like that.  Be observant.  Be patient.  Shoot early in the morning or late in the day for the optimal low angle light – if you shoot in the middle of the day, you’ll probably find that everything looks bright and washed out.  And… have fun!

These photo tips will work for any crab on any beach you might find yourself on.

The Frog shot these images in Nags Head, NC with a Nikon 55-300VR zoom lens on a Nikon D7100 and then processed them in onOne Perfect Photo Suite 9.5.

There’s a new gallery on Laughing Frog Images dedicated to the Atlantic ghost crab.  If you guessed that it’s called Ghost Crabs, you’re right!

Want a unique coffee mug or phone case?  We’ve got you covered.

Or, for those with a warped sense of humor – how about a crab staring at people in your powder room or guest bathroom?  (I don’t know where that came from, but it’s reasonable for me to think that Mrs. Frog wouldn’t let me do that!)