As a longtime admirer of Buckminster Fuller, the noted architect, inventor, and futurist, I was excited to recently find this selection of photos at an antique store. The photos depict the U.S. Military erecting a wooden geodesic dome, the structure made famous by Buckminster Fuller. Based on the servicemen's shoulder patches, they look to be members of the Eighth United States Army, likely placing the location of the photos in South Korea. From Wikipedia:
I recently visited the new Elliott Coues Nature Trail at Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach, NC. Located to the west of Fort Macon and the US Coast Guard Station, a portion of the trail winds over sound side marshes and through old growth maritime forests of stunted live oaks and red cedars.
The trail is named for Dr. Elliott Coues (September 9, 1842 – December 25, 1899), an American army surgeon, historian, author, naturalist, ornithologist, anatomist, taxonomist, and occultist who was stationed at Fort Macon in 1869. He was the author of the seminal Key to North American Birds in 1872 and the editor of Journals of Lewis and Clark in 1893. When he died in 1899 the journal Birds and All Nature published:
Trees, particularly mature trees, are of special interest on NC's barrier islands. Early ideas about the nature of the maritime fringe focused on an idyllic but inaccurate history of the environment as a stable landform covered with healthy, old growth trees. Scientists, politicians, and conservationists in the early 20th century believed that it was only due to the destructive acts of early human inhabitants that we have the sandy, shrubby, and unstable landscape we know today. With the blame placed on shortsighted logging practices and the uncontrolled grazing of livestock, administrators believed that through scientific management, conservation, and dune building the coastal landscape would return to an imagined reforested state. To this day, the project to stabilize the shifting sands is still underway. Current research paints a more dynamic picture of maritime ecology:
Many of the policies that still shape the Outer Banks began with the trees. It was from this desire to reconfigure, reforest, and return to an imagined state that the massive worldbuilding project on NC's coast commenced. In his excellent thesis, Gabriel Francis Lee summarizes the results:
The 3 prints I had on display included:
The Washington City Paper covered the show in their article At Carroll Square Gallery, Photographers Document Littoral Harbingers of Doom:
And the Washington Post had this to say in their November 2016 In the galleries roundup:
Thanks again to Caitlin Berry and the folks at Hemphill for including me in the show!
Carroll Square Gallery
975 F Street NW
Washington DC 20004
This is a behind the scenes look at the making of Highway 12 IV, a fine art, black and white panoramic image from the series Upon Sand. When the prints from Upon Sand were first exhibited last year, there was a lot of interest in the techniques I used to create them. This quick video was created to serve as a visual illustration of that process, from raw capture to stitching and final post-processing.
For their November 2015 issue, Walter Magazine contacted me about shooting some black and white still lifes of fall produce and I was more than happy to work with them. The shoot concept emerged from an earlier still life I had produced a while back of a Hernandez sweet potato. Walter's art director loved the aesthetic and requested a series of additional images to illustrate what types of foods were actually eaten at the first Thanksgiving celebration.
The November issue of Walter Magazine is available on Raleigh newsstands now and the feature can be seen online at Seen in Raleigh: Thanksgiving still life. Thanks to Walter for the opportunity!
The majority of produce was purchased from the State Farmers Market and shot in my studio on a worn cookie sheet using the wonderful Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZF.2 on my Nikon D800e. Focus-stacking was employed to increase overall sharpness and depth of field.
Also in the November issue is a fantastic write up of Holder Goods & Crafts that includes one of my photos of the space. Holder is the new gallery/shop where I recently had prints from my series Upon Sand on display. It was wonderful to see the feature in Walter as I know the team behind Holder deserves recognition for the excellent job they've done with the shop.
Read the story and see more of my photos of the space online at Spotlight: Holder Goods & Crafts.
This weekend (Thursday, Oct 22 - Sunday, Oct 25) is your last chance to see prints from my recent series Upon Sand on display at Holder Goods & Crafts. This was my first major photography show and I couldn't be more excited about the experience I had working with the team at Holder. They've created a new space so visually appealing, unique, and welcoming; my work was definitely elevated by being there. The amount of time and talent that it took to bring us this space is easily evident. Thanks to the other great artists whose work made the space come alive, Arrowhead and Wylde, and a special thanks to everyone who has already made it out to see the show, often braving some of serious weather to be there.
Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, the North Carolina Museum of Art's West Building expansion is one of my favorite pieces of architecture. Completed in 2010, the 127,000 sq. ft. building houses the museum's permanent collection and sits within a 164-acre Museum Park. Of particular interest to me is the building's skin, made of 230 overlapping anodized aluminum panels with reflective stainless steel infill. The panels tilt in two directions, creating a building that is incredibly kinetic yet perfectly still. The skin allows the architecture to reveal two distinct expressions based on the perspective of the visitor. From one angle, the soft, satin finish of the panels allows them to bleed together into one, seemingly seamless monolith of grey aluminum. As the viewer encounters the museum from the opposing angle they are treated to a very different sight: as the panels tilt outwards they reveal mirror-like metal insets, reflecting the natural environment in rhythmic distortions, each panel sharply defined until receding into a sheet of polished glass.
In the 19th century, the building of the railroads allowed such great distances to be traversed at what was previously unimaginable speeds, resulting in new comprehensions of time and space and the opening of a new frontier. In the 20th century, the construction of NC Highway 12 had a similar effect on the Outer Banks. In 1900, when Wilbur Wright set out for Kitty Hawk, NC from Dayton, Ohio, the train arrived in Elizabeth City, NC two days later. The last 35 miles of his journey to the small fishing village of Kitty Hawk, isolated and without infrastructure, took four days and almost ended in shipwreck. For a detailed account see Wilbur Wright Travels to the Outer Banks: Dayton, Ohio to Elizabeth City, NC, September 6-September 13, 1900.
Long before there were paved roads on the Outer banks, the teenaged brothers Harold, Stocky and Anderson Midgett operated the Manteo-Hatteras Bus Line in the late 1930s. Driving on the wet sand, dodging shipwrecks, and even swinging out into the shallow sound, the 50 mile trip to the ferry at Oregon Inlet could take anywhere from four and a half to ten hours to complete, and occasionally passengers had to spend the night on the beach due to mechanical problems. For an excellent account of driving on the Outer Banks before the road, see Anderson Midgett talks to Amy Glass about running the Hatteras to Manteo Bus Line with his brothers on Carolina Coastal Voices, embedded below.
The road not only linked the isolated communities of NC's barrier landscape together like never before, but also opened them up to the growing numbers of temporary visitors that would soon transform the place and its economy. The road tamed the atlantic frontier, bringing human convenience wherever it went, but it also locked visitors, locals, politicians, engineers, and numerous governmental agencies into a seemingly unwinnable gamble with the forces of natures: how to maintain a brittle, vital ribbon of asphalt atop a strip of sand in one of the most kinetic environments imaginable.
At 148 miles long, Highway 12 is the critical element that allows people to easily experience the Outer Banks. It is a two-lane road that runs North-South along the barrier islands (in some places barely wider than the road) beginning in the south at a junction with US 70 in the community of Sea Level on the mainland and ends just north of Corolla, where the road becomes a sandy path along the beach for the last few miles, terminating near the Virginia border. The route includes two ferry trips to cross both the Ocracoke and Hatteras inlets, one major bridge across the Oregon Inlet, a presently temporary bridge over New Inlet, and the ever-present sight of both beautiful vistas and construction crews.
The road was the key infrastructure that opened the Outer Banks to profitable development, increasing tax revenues and real estate value. Its existence allowed countless Americans to easily venture to the coast, experiencing a place prized for natural beauty and steeped with the lore of a national identity built on tales of the Lost Colony and the Wright Brothers' first flight. In the first half of the 20th century, a road was not at odds with the prevailing ideas about the geology of the islands. They were considered to be constant, permanent; though damaged by poor human stewardship, capable of rehabilitation to a former pristine, forested, and stable condition. Current science gives us a more advanced view of the complex and kinetic systems of the barrier islands. The Outer Banks are naturally migratory.
The dunes are the primary stabilizing element of the Outer Banks. They were originally built and maintained by the Park Service in an attempt to protect the islands and allow them to revert back into an imagined, idyllic state, though as updated science explained otherwise, the Park Service stopped all dune maintenance, potentially leaving the road susceptible to erosion, washouts, and decay. Instead, the job was passed to the NC Department of Transportation.
To maintain the road, fixed in place, and the developed shoreline that it has created, we must stop the migration of the islands. But to stop their migration is also to rob them of the natural processes that replenish their supply of sand and consequentially they are shrinking, fading into the Atlantic. It is an expensive, emotional, and exceedingly complex issue, born of American desires for both nature and convenience, and delivered by the road.
Upon Sand is an exploration of the environmental, political, and spatial tensions found on North Carolina’s coast. A dynamic area subjected to strong winds and powerful currents, the maritime fringe of NC is a storied place of national historic and scientific value. Its shifting shoals and rough waters have claimed hundreds of ships and an unknown tally of lives earning it the nickname "Graveyard of the Atlantic." It is also a place of unique beauty and natural wonder. It has attracted many visitors: lost colonists, pirates, numerous hurricanes, sportsmen, watermen, migratory waterfowl, the Wright Brothers, real estate boosters, and now thousands of tourists each year. And soon it could all be lost. It is a fragile place that seems destined to be swallowed by the rising seas, taking with it billions of dollars worth of property, an economic engine, and a way of life.
Though heralded for it’s natural beauty, the landscape blurs the line between the natural and the manufactured; a strip of sand that is shaped as much by state and federal governmental agencies, developers, conservationists, and the New Deal as it is by the wind and waves. These images depict the results of the myriad of forces at work in this kinetic environment and the quixotic struggle required to bring human interests to the shifting sands.
I first became infatuated with this landscape two years ago on a trip to Cape Hatteras. It was stark, beautiful, picturesque, and alien. The need to create images rose from an odd feeling of being surrounded by beauty but with an unshakeable sense that we do not belong here. As I drove along a thin crust of asphalt, partially hidden by sand in some places and overwash in others, the towering man-made dune stood to my left, inches from the road, a pile of sand the only thing between human comforts and the Atlantic Ocean. It was that odd feeling and that seemingly precarious bit of infrastructure that led me to explore the tensions of the maritime fringe.
Along with many trips, research has been paramount. Especially vital was the writing and research of Gabriel Francis Lee, whose thesis work (under the direction of Matthew Morse Booker) at NC State University Constructing the Outer Banks: Land Use, Management, and Meaning in the Creation of an American Place proved an amazing aid. It was here that I encountered the above quote from the Raleigh Observer that so powerfully summarized the struggle, adding gravitas and longevity. It also gave me a title.
The mark for the series is created in Perpetua type, designed by English sculptor and typeface designer Eric Gill in 1929, that has been contextually eroded by the same dunes that first inspired the series.
The chiseled letters, designed with the permanence of an engraving in mind, being engulfed by sand seemed a fitting metaphor for the series.
In South Nags Head, along a u-shaped road now buried beneath sand, there stands a row of decrepit houses in the Atlantic Ocean. One leans far to the west, like a gnarled oak fleeing the ocean's spray. Another is being repaired and one has already been removed. All were severely damaged when ocean waters overwashed E Seagull Dr during a winter storm that hit the area around Veteran's Day in 2009 and have since become a source of extended legal controversy. The houses that remain and the struggles that followed are a clear illustration of the challenges that accompany living on shifting sands.
After the storm waters receded from E Seagull Dr, the legal battle began. The utility connections were damaged and due to the migration of sand the structures sat in the "wet zone" of the public beach. A portion of the damaged houses were declared a public nuisance and condemned by the Town of Nags Head. The owners were given notice to either tear down or remove the structures, which according to the Town, now sat within public trust property and blocked movement of both visitors and emergency response vehicles alike, effectively splitting the public beach, northern and southern. Considered "wash ins" and condemned, the Town would not issue any additional building permits for the structures, preventing owners from making any repairs. The condition of the houses then deteriorated greatly as they were exposed to wind, waves, rain, and looters. The Town wanted the structures removed and owners of the houses wanted the right to repair their property and make them again inhabitable. The case was argued in Dare County Superior Court in December of 2010 and initially the verdict sided with the Town of Nags Head.
The defendant, Cherry Inc., owner of one of the houses, appealed the decision. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the previous ruling and found that local governments in NC had no power of enforcement under State public trust law and that the claims against the defendant should be dismissed. The decision shows that the Town of Nags Head had no legal basis for condemnation as only the State of NC could enforce the regulations of the State's public trusts. A door now opened, potentially allowing for repair of the deteriorating structures and possible reclamation of lost rental income. For a rundown of the legal proceedings see Public Trust and Private Rights—Local Case Poses Difficult Questions in the North Beach Sun. The decision was troubling for those in coastal communities that wanted to protect their most vital asset: the public beach.
Roc Sansotta, manager and part-owner of six of the houses, also took legal action against the Town.
To further complicate matters, while litigation was ongoing, a long-awaited beach nourishment project again shifted the sands.
A few days shy of Veteran's Day in November 2014, Sansotta had claimed victory. The U.S. District Court for eastern North Carolina decided that the structures can stay on the beach and be repaired. He placed American flags on the houses as a symbol of the legal struggle that he had endured and said he had plans to repair them in time for the upcoming rental season. He referred to the houses as his "troops," though neighbors employed other comparisons. In the harsh environment, the flags were soon tattered and threadbare.
Despite legal victories and the possibility of repairs, the majority the remaining E. Seagull Dr houses will soon be gone. Any sanctuary gained by previous beach nourishment programs was evidently washed away by the time these images were captured in December, 2014. On March 27, 2015, the Pacific Legal Foundation, who represented Sansotta in the case posted:
With sea levels rising (from 4.8 to 11.6 inches near Nags Head over the next 30 years, according to a recent report from the Coastal Resources Commission’s advisory science panel) and no signs of development slowing, this case could portend the future of the Outer Banks, one where both flood waters and legal documents are surging.
During some busy tourist season yet to come, will beach-goers be aware they spread their towels where a row of houses once stood? Will they remember the six year long legal battle that cost millions of dollars, both public and private, over a patch of shifting sand? Or will they just be in awe of the natural wonder that lies before them? My hope for this series is to depict a landscape that isn't quite so natural after all; a strip of sand that is shaped as much by state and federal governmental agencies, departments of transportation, rental rates, bridge builders, real estate agents, courts, commerce, and human interests as it is by the wind and waves. See more images Upon Sand.
The Oregon Inlet is a dramatic feature of North Carolina's coastal landscape. The 2.5 mile wide gap in the island chain (between Bodie Island to the north and Hatteras Island to the south) connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pamlico Sound, the largest lagoon on the East Coast.
The inlet formed in 1846 when a hurricane ripped through the coast and is named for a ship that survived the storm:
Surrounded by abundant wildlife, the inlet is a major departure point for both commercial and recreational fishing vessels. Starting in 1883, the precursor to the US Coast Guard operated a lifesaving station on the southern bank of the inlet. The station was moved and rebuilt numerous times due to storm damage and the shifting sands until the location was finally abandoned in 1988. Also located on the southern shore of the Oregon Inlet is Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, a popular stop along the "Atlantic Flyway" for migratory birds.
Spanning the inlet is the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, a vital automotive link that allows NC Highway 12 to continue south towards the popular tourist areas of Hatteras Island. Built in 1962, engineers have recently awarded the bridge 4 out of 100 points and listed it as "structurally deficient." Multiple replacements have been planned, ranging from a simple parallel structure very similar to the existing bridge to a 17 mile long elevated highway that would arc Highway 12 out into the Pamlico Sound and reconnect in Rodanthe, but due to political and environmental concerns no new bridge is currently under construction. For more info see A newcomer's guide to the Bonner Bridge controversy.
All images are from the series Upon Sand, a photographic exploration of the environmental and political tensions found on North Carolina’s coast.
At slightly over a mile long and standing at 82 feet high at maximum elevation, the Washington Baum Bridge spans the Roanoke Sound, connecting Roanoke Island to Nags Head on the Outer Banks via Highway 64. In addition to providing vital highway access to the Outer Banks, the western terminus of the bridge also features a boat ramp and pedestrian fishing area.
These images are a part of my series Upon Sand, a photographic exploration of the environmental and political tensions found on North Carolina’s coast. Each panorama is comprised of multiple Nikon D800e vertical frames stitched together. Click to enlarge!
Posted here are a few images from Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nag's Head on the outer banks of NC. Jockey's Ridge contains the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern United States which varies from 80 to 100 feet high as sand is blown back and forth by powerful competing winds.
All images were made with a Mamiya 7II and Kodak Tri-X 400 film.
Every year I spend a lot of time at the North Carolina State Fair. My family business involves the development of agricultural machinery as well as local food production and we've been represented at the NC State Fair for almost 50 years. When I'm not working at one of our booths I always try to walk around, eat BBQ, and take pictures.
The scenes are extremely varied at the time, but always very similar year to year. Classics emerge like the smokey mirage that hangs above the jumbo turkey legs and the fans in the stands awaiting a pig race at the Hogway Speedway, year after year. Sometimes I even glimpse a quiet moment that reminds me of my own experience at the State Fair: a woman taking a break from serving food, reading in the sun, totally removed from the visual cacophony of her environment.
All photos were taken with a Mamiya 7II and Kodak Tri-X 400.
Spotting outside Rodanthe, NC, the Coastal Research Amphibious Buggy (CRAB) is used for beach nourishment projects along the Outer Banks. Built by the Wilmington District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the operating platform rises 35 feet atop an aluminum tripod propelled by a Volkswagen diesel engine powering liquid-filled wheels.
"Top speed of the CRAB is 3.2 km/hr (2 mph) on land and somewhat less in the water. Since the maximum significant wave height for operation is 2 m (6 ft), the CRAB is capable of operating in all but the most severe storms." Source: US Army Corps of Engineers
Shot with a Mamiya 7II and Kodak Tri-X 400.
A few more panoramas exploring the South's agri-industrial history. Each panorama is comprised of multiple Nikon D800e vertical frames stitched together. Click to enlarge!
Really excited to be included in this list with some great photographers! See the work in a one night only projection show Friday at 9pm at the AVT Headquarters: 126 E Queen St. Hillsborough NC.
A recent panorama from my ongoing series exploring the agro-industrial history of the South.
A few more black and white studio shots of produce from the State Farmers Market. Pictured this time are two German Johnson tomatoes from Walker Farms and one Hernandez sweet potato from Beth Moore's Produce. Shot with Nikon D800e and Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZF.2 on an old cookie sheet.