Riding out hurricanes on the coast is not for the timid. The named storm Elsa never got stronger than a tropical storm, but after a night of 40-55 mph winds, torrential rain and water spouts just off the coast, I went to the beach to scope things out. Dunes, the live oaks and the low brush are important to any island and the interior was cool and breezy at 7am. Cresting the shore-line stairs over the dunes, the story changed.
Winds were blowing about 25 mph. Sand and sea foam were flying through the air, sometimes as high as my waist. The ocean was still churning white-caps towards the horizon and everything was littered with sea foam. The rock groins were covered in the foam and the waves coming in stayed white all the way up and back. With the dark clouds along the horizon, it looked like a snow storm. I could barely hear the waves through the wind.
My Leica S007 and my Series 3 Gitzo tripod with 3 inch spikes on the bottom to secure it in wet sand are meant for inclement weather. Today, I left the camera strap around my neck even though everything was firmly attached to my tripod. Securing a filter mount on the front of the lens, I pulled out the filters themselves. Gripping them tightly, I fought with the wind, sliding them into the mount before they were torn from my hands.
My exposures were from 1-3 seconds. Moving closer to the rock groins, I failed to get relief from the winds. The sun was above the horizon, blocked by the quickly moving remnants of the storm clouds. An occasional glimpse of momentary blue sky above was the only sign that the storm would eventually clear. This was a new experience and I managed to capture several different scenes of Elsa. I call this, 'Elsa the Snow Queen.'
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor