Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sea Oats

Sky Watch Friday


We would like to share a photo that we made last fall on a trip down to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. It is a photograph of Sea Oats which grow on the eastern coasts of the U.S, Mexico, and the Islands of the Caribbean. I have been trying to photograph them for years, but I could never find a stand of Sea Oats that really suited me. What I had been looking for was a grouping of the oats leaning in a steady quartering wind to show some dynamic motion and add interest to the scene. I finally found it! An added bonus was the beautiful, mature fall colors set against clean sand and an interesting sky.


Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata)
Nikon D200, 90mm
1/400 sec, f/10, ISO 200



The sky is a typical marine layer which has lifted and can't decide whether to rain or break. It had showered much earlier in the morning. The stiff breeze was drying out the surface of the sand and creating small ripples in the surface (seen in the enlarged photo). Not seen in the photo are the grains of sand skittering across the upper beach above the tide line, reshaping the landscape, and pelting me mercilessly. Oh, the trials a photographer must endure to get the perfect picture....

Can you smell the clean, fresh ocean air? The temperature was a perfect 75-80 degrees. We drove along the beach at the water's edge for about 10 miles in our 4wd Toyota 4Runner. This area, called Boca Chica, is south of South Padre Island, and is separated from it by the channel at Port Isabel. This photograph was taken about one mile from the Rio Grande River, which forms the Texas/Mexico Border.

We had lunch in the 4Runner, facing the Gulf of Mexico, with the front wheels just being caressed by the incoming waves. What a view!

This is the same area and trip where we photographed the Oyster-catcher shown in a previous post. Click here to see this magnificent bird with his haughty stride, strolling on the beach. Martha photographed him as we drove past.

Troy and Martha

Note: Sea oats are well suited to saline environments, and are often used in soil stabilization projects, because their long root structure firmly holds loose soil. Sea oats are a protected grass in most states along the East Coast.


For other SWF posts,
see Tom's new SkyWatch site here.
.

67 comments:

'JoAnn's-D-Eyes'NL said...

happy swf Martha and Troy
Thanks for sharing this great shot!!!!

From La Rochelle:
we have very slo--o-o-o-oo- w internet (in a cafe) here, so please sign me u for SWF, as soon as possible?

JoAnn in FRANCE

Cicero Sings said...

That Sea Oats picture is a winner all right!

Daryl said...

Fabulous photo as always and that you explain this stuff is even more fabulous .. I can now pretend I really know these things!

:-Daryl

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Lovely photo (love the plants blowing in the wind) and interesting information. I *think* I saw Sea Oats at White Sands National Monument, but could have been another wild look-alike. Thanks for the Sky Watch!

juliana rw said...

wow...beautiful

Mine in here Thanks

Picturing of Life said...

wonderful shot

Hope you can Visit me also Thanks

ArneA said...

Toyota friends all over the world.
Quality and operational security.
Why try something different

Max-e said...

Looks like the search paid off in the end. That is a stunning photo. Sounds like it was a great trip too.

RuneE said...

Really good work with those oats! I believe it's the same they use along the coast of Denmark to stop the erosion of sand.

Dewdrop said...

I'm with you, Troy... we endure just about anything for the shot, don't we??? lol... well, I can't smell the beach, but your shot really makes me want to. How magnificent!

Luiz Ramos said...

You both are welcome with a great shot a important report.

fishing guy said...

Troy: Certainly a great capture that can only be found along the oceans or gulfs of the world.

imac said...

Beautifully shot.

Angie said...

This is a really beautiful photo and thank you also for the information.It's always good to learn something new.

Julie said...

I love the criteria you set for getting the perfect sea-oats image. The way you describe that part of the world is with much love and pride. It sure sounds wonderful ...

Aileni said...

Another quality shot.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

I've never heard of sea oats...so thanks! Interesting post!

Pietro said...

Fantastic image, great atmosphere.
Happy Sky Watch!

Pietro Brosio Gallery

Daryl said...

My laptop is in hospital .. so I set up post ahead stuff .. my sky watch friday post will pop up tomorrow morning ... and thanks .. I wish it were true that we still looked as young and carefree as we did 30 yrs ago .. I ain't complainin' but ...

:-Daryl

Old Wom Tigley said...

Hello to two great Sky Watchers and bloggers... thanks for all you kind comments and thoughts...

Tom

kjpweb said...

Gorgeous image. It's interesting how different in color the sand is on the other side of the gulf, compared to Florida's white sand. Love the ripples to.
Cheers, Klaus

Cicero Sings said...

Thank you for your information regarding Harvestmen! Very interesting. I checked out BugGuide for some really interesting shots. Their joints are so interesting ... and where their eyes are ... and ..... I had just assumed it was a Daddy Longlegs (which I didn't know were mildly poisonous!)

CrazyCath said...

Oh yes, I can smell the air. That is a beautiful shot and I love the foreground too.

Kim said...

This is a beautiful photo. I want to be there right now, feeling the breeze on my face and the sand in my toes.

Thank you for your nice comments and for the high pass tip.

Ted C. MacRae said...

Troy -- I've been at that very spot many times. Perhaps you already know, but in the tidal flats behind the dunes, there are LOTS of tiger beetles. I was there in October a few years ago and found six species I think.

Cicero Sings said...

To answer your question about Northern Crescents ... they seem to be very common ... at least this year. I just now, went back into my archives from last year and yes, I had pictures of them back then too ... so common.

Cicero Sings said...

P.S. There is an even better picture of that butterfly at this entry:

http://cicerosings.blogspot.com/2007/08/singing-our-praises.html

... and I think you'll like the cool dude biker bug too.

By the way the Crumb Cake is excellent and very easy to make. Yum!

Pernille's ting og tang said...

Very beautiful shot! Wow! Wonderful work:)

Carver said...

That is fabulous. I love sea oats and the way you captured the scene is perfect. SkyWatch from my Deck

Kathiesbirds said...

Troy, that's just about perfect. I could see the ripples in the sand as the oats bend with the wind, and I can almost, almost smell the sea air! I did not know that sea oats are a protected grass. You've educated me once again.

Kahshe Cottager said...

Lovely photo ... and now I am longing for the sea!

Have a wonderful weekend of beautiful skies!
My Sky Watch Photos Here and Here

babooshka said...

Always learn a little something when I'm here. Great pic too.

Greyscale Territory said...

Really enjoyed this whole posting! You took us to your beautiful world!

Jeanne said...

wonderful share. love the little details you added too. enjoying being a part of SWF very much.

chanpheng said...

Interesting photo of your quest. I can feel and smell the air!

My SWF is here, a collection of sky photos over the past week.

Ces said...

Those are the most beautiful dunes and oats I have seen.

JennWasHere said...

I love the capture of the sea oats as it moves to the air!

Hope you can hop by my SWF photos in these blogs:
Jenn Was Here
Shutter Happenings

Thanks! Happy Friday!

Jim said...

I like this photo Troy. I also think you're doing great with your blog (I can see a focus developing).

I'm really busy Troy, as you may have heard or picked up. But, I'm also having a "Name the Newt" contest on my web site for a chance to win my September Print of the Month. You can read about it here.

I'd appreciate you trying to get the word out as the contest is from August 1-15 only and I'd like to see a blogger win, but I'm not a judge for the contest either.

Thanks, Jim

BTW, as a subscriber, GET BOTH of YOUR ENTRIES in ASAP.

SandyCarlson said...

Thanks for this view, Martha and Troy. This is a wonderful photo.

HFD60 said...

that's a great photo..wish I was there...Thanks for visiting my blog and the great comments...

Fish Whisperer said...

Beautiful photograph. It should be wall size for all to see.
Cheers

Whitney said...

who knew see oats could make for such a cool photo!! This picture is great!! Have a good friday!

Lawstude said...

wow. definitely a postcard moment.

it warmed me-up in this rainy day. have a nice day martha and troy.

auringonkukka said...

beautiful photo!
have a nice weekend =O)

Genie said...

The bird shot is interesting enough, but his/her reflection in the saturated sand makes it so much more special--I can almost smell the kelp and hear the birds in that shot.

Alas, sea oats, I've never heard of or seen them. As long as I've been in Texas I've never seen our coastline. Stepped on a dead seal on the beach in California once... wasn't nearly as nice as seeing a few colonies of seat oats would have been.

Your sea oats shot is almost sensual, all those smooth mounds formed by the sand and oats. Nice. You're right, it wouldn't have been the same without the wind. With the wind pushing the grasses down, their shape mimics the rolling sand mounds. Nice!

I believe I'll start thinking of y'all as "The Bagginses" what with your yen to see over the horizon and beyond. "Mountains, Gandalf, mountains!"

esnorway said...

great shoot have nice weekend

The Texican said...

Looks familiar. I think they are allowing traffic back across the Queesn Isabella Causeway this week. Great SWF choice with a nice commentary. Thanks, Pappy

Torsdag said...

sometimes it is difficult because part of the photo dominate but you found a good balance between the objekt and the sky

Anne-Berit said...

Beautiful picture!

The Urban Buddha said...

That is a fantastic shot! Love the composition! :) Great job!

Brenda said...

Lovely!! Makes me want to take a walk on the beach, any beach!

storyteller said...

Such a lovely photo and informative information too! I always enjoy my visits to your blog. This one almost looks like a painting rather than a photograph. I’m glad you persevered against the pelting sand … and hope you're no worse for wear. Your description makes me want to travel again myself ... almost ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Larry D said...

Great photo! Excellent photo of the sea oats.Happy SWF!

Debbie said...

Great photo, you can almost feel the heat.

Kelly said...

Beutiful photos!

Edgar said...

I love this picture. The soft colors, the tranquility in the scene, the movement and rythm in the Sea Oats - great composition!

Thanks for your nice comment.

Dragonstar said...

This is a beautiful picture! It would make a very nice card, I think.

becky voyles said...

I love the fact that you can actually see the wind! Too cool. It reminds me of the old Boise ad where they guy is sitting in a black leather chair and the music from the speakers is blowing his tie and his hair back. Great shot.

me ann my camera said...

There is a wonderful flow to your photo.

Nita said...

Nice entry. Mine is up as well. Hope to see you there! Have a great weekend!

Cheers,
http://www.nitascorner.info
http://www.nitasrandomthoughts.info
http://www.downeastartscenter.org
http://www.thomastraveltales.com
http://www.thomasweblinks.us

Bob Johnson said...

Beautiful and informative, always learning something here. My Daughter has a D200, she loves it, she took a 2 year course in Photojournalism.

Pato N Pearl said...

Very beautiful!!!!

Pearl - have a good weekend. its hot here in Singapore and I'm staying indoors ;)

Petunia said...

A very beautiful shot:)

Petunia's ABC Wednesday/SWF post

GranmaL said...

Beautiful picture of the sea oats against the blue sky. I love the ocean.

system operator said...

Exellent photo, I very much liked the desert look of that beach.

Louise said...

This is spectacular. Every element is perfect. Every single thing you mentioned is what makes me want to look and look at this picture.

dguzman said...

My eyes teared up at the sight of the sea oats. I felt like I was back on South Padre Island for just a little bit.