My 23rd Photo In Explore! September 3, 2010.
A Long Island Sound Vision To Remember.
It was Wednesday. News was pouring in that Hurricane (or Tropical Storm for some people) Earl was racing up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. It was headed towards Massachusetts by Friday, with a glancing blow expected on Long Island.
Ahead of the storm’s impending arrival, I knew the air would start getting moisture laden. Since there was no heavy cloud cover, it meant there was a good chance of catching the setting sun’s light through the hazy prism precursor of nature’s looming fury.
I had to drive back from Boston to New York. Even though the ferry ticket for car & driver ($50) and a bite to eat ($20) would add to the cost, it was a calculated gamble I had to take.
I timed my Boston departure to ensure I would get on the New London, CT Cross Sound Ferry to Orient Point, NY departing at 6PM.
This would ensure I would be making the nearly 17 miles long angled crossing of the Long Island Sound (Atlantic Ocean water between Long Island’s North Shore and the states of Connecticut) as the sun would be signing out in anticipation of the hurricane’s outer edges.
I-395 was a pleasure to drive on as traffic was clear enough for me to arrive at the terminal by 5:30 PM. I boarded the ferry, posted a few tweets and FaceBook Wall updates and got ready for the ride.
The haze was getting heavier and the late afternoon sun made the sky behind the New London skyline appear to glow a dull orange tinged gray.
But, I smiled. From my experience photographing sunsets yachting in Miami, Florida, I realized it also meant the Sun would likely become more and more gold-red as it set. A photographer’s dream.
I snapped photos ( 12-14MB RAW Nikon D300 images, presented here at less than 4MB framed) from the top deck of the ferry. The wind was gusting, in my face, slapping my cheeks, bringing tears of joy only a mariner knows and loves standing against, yet being one with, nature’s power.
Despite the whipping wind the water inside the Sound to the West was eerily calm as you can see in this photo. It was protected from the wind’s effects by the body of Long Island.
As the Ferry approached the North East tip of Long Island, and Orient Point Ferry Terminal came into view, I realized that the best shot of this marker with the Sun over and behind it would be from the lower deck. As the boat’s droning engines hummed, the vibrations of powerful motors lifting the bow (nose) cone reverberated under my feet. The vessel carrying it’s cargo of nearly 100 cars and several hundred people arced into the space between Block Island and Long Island, where, in an irony of names, the waters of Block Island Sound and Long Island Sound collided in total silence.
Nikon strapped around my neck and behind my shoulder, like an assault weapon that shoots beauty and joy instead of bullets, I did my best (wannabe) action movie star impersonation.
I confidently moved on the rolling deck towards the staircase. Hooking my arms around the railings on either side of the stairway down, I took a leap of faith, childish joy and adrenaline rush.
Sliding down, like sailors we see going down submarine stairways in movies and TV shows, I ensured that the Nikon lens was hugging me tight in front and not likely to hit the metal frames.
Landing on my feet like a Shock and Awe soldier, in one fluid motion I was already stepping towards the side of the boat, with a “Shoot & Ahhh!” moment facing me.
My left hand was starting to zoom out the lens while the right hand was powering up my shooting weapon, as a well trained Marine(r), while the “actor/director” in me wrapped that (silent) movie scene of my non-Hollywood action star career in one take.
I crouched, semi-kneeled, camera up to my face…. The viewfinder framing perfect moments of beauty going by at nearly 20 mph…
At this close distance and relatively high speed, wind gusts and the turning boat’s rolling motion were all conspiring for the perfect capture to elude me.
I knew, I had faith, I could do it. I knew it was the start of a new month, a new phase, a new chapter, a new mission…. like my own action movie, it was, The Hunt For Red September.
The moments are in caught in a warm hued freeze frame. I click. I frame. I shoot. I dot not ask questions. Time slides by. Water rushes by. One moment merges into the next. That moment, yes, that one, there it went. It would never return in this space-time continuum. I have to capture it for all eternity.
I twist to my right, still zooming, framing, aiming and keeping the camera level, as the structure seems to be sliding to the right and the sun behind it trying to escape the camera frame. I shoot again.
I knew, this is it. My mind raced, my soul stood still. I clicked. I shot again and captured this Sound Vision in a miracle of life, light and line of sight. (This is the full frame, no cropping, luckily even the horizon is fairly level so no straightening done either).
The Hunt For Red September…. Mission Accomplished.