Gulf State Park
In April 2017, we took a trip for a week to Gulf State Park, along the gulf coast at Gulf Shores, Alabama. It is located east of Mobile.
Gulf State Park is a very large property. An extensive 25 mile plus bike winds through the back country of the property. One will see marshes, fresh water inlets, and forested areas. Wildlife include eagles, alligators, gopher turtles, along with numerous bird species.
The bike path also takes the visitor to the sandy beaches along the gulf and the park’s very long fishing pier, extending out into the Gulf.
Not being a fisherman, it is still enjoyable to walk the pier and observe those who are good at this sport. Pelicans line the rail, waiting for handouts as the fish are cleaned. Sharks swim beneath to catch the jettisoned carcasses.
Along the boardwalk
On one late afternoon, I biked down to the beach (approximately a mile). Once there, I locked the bike to the rack and started looking for something of interest.
To preserve the sand dunes from erosion, boardwalks lead from the parking areas over the dunes to the beach.
This afternoon, with the sun starting to go down behind me, I was walking slowly along the boardwalk. I was looking for the “Gulf Shores” image, one that brought out the dunes and vegetation, without including the gulf.
Walking along the boardwalk, I noticed a buried snow fence, deep in the dunes. (Such fencing helps stabilize the dunes). Fortunately, the shadows from the western sun didn’t yet bath the entire front of the dune in darkness.
This scene was exactly what I was looking for. To me, it is the quintessential image of Gulf Shores area.
This image is back-lit, meaning the sun is behind it, thus casting shadows toward me. Being late afternoon, the sun was going down in the west. Fortunately there was just enough shadows to accent the fence and grass, without dominating the image.
There is a small plant poking through the dunes in the lower right corner, with its own shadow. I purposely framed this image to include this small plant and its shadows. It is purposely out-of-focus. The primary focus resides with the fence.
Seeing only the top few inches of the snow fence gives the viewer a reference as to how potentially deep this sand dune could be. The dune grass growing along the fence speaks to the time-frame the fence has been in place.
File ID: PHP_IMG_14050; 1Ds Mark III, Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 L IS USM, focal length 125mm, ISO 100, 1/320 second, f/8, spot metering, manual, no tripod, no mirror lock-up delay, developed in Lightroom
This is one of the few images that I hand-held the camera and did not have a tripod. Because I was biking, I had only this lens on the camera and left the tripod “back at the ranch”.
To compensate for the lack of the tripod, I employed the image stabilization (IS) of the lens, used a high shutter speed, and did not use mirror lock-up. While hand-holding the camera, I used the rail of the boardwalk for additional stability.
While taking this image, I never left the boardwalk. The sand dunes never saw a footstep.
Boardwalk to the beach