Category: Chincoteague


On more than a few occasions, I have mentioned Assateague in my blog.  I have also mentioned that I grew up close to the area and really miss it.  Last week, I got a chance to head to Virginia, and while I was there, I drove over to Assateague to shoot some of the wildlife.  What I saw there was pretty scary.  A winter storm had caused some serious damage to the beach and the wildlife refuge surrounding it.  Trees were down all over the place.  Sand was blown from the beach all the way out to the toll booths some half a mile or more away.

The beach was almost gone.  The roads that usually branch off to the parking area were roped off and giant dump trucks were working feverishly to replace the sand that had been blown or washed away from the beach.  I have never seen it this bad in all my years going there.  Even the day I was there it was very windy.

While I was there I took a few shots of the wildlife.  It is my favorite part of visiting Assateague.  The wild ponies are almost always around, and this time was no different.  There were quite a few out in the pasture.  There are also always some great birds there.  Herons, egrets, ducks, geese and many others.  It is a photographer’s dream.  Here are some shots that I got that day…

Wild ponies and some downed trees

Wild ponies and some downed trees

He took off just as I was trying to get the shot

He took off just as I was trying to get the shot

Soaring away

Soaring away

Hiding from me

Hiding from me

Where is your favorite place to visit?  One that stands out in your mind…

**Note – You can follow Assateague on Twitter @AssateagueNPS **

A few days back, I wrote about ‘back home’ in Virginia.  I grew up on the Delmarva Peninsula in what the locals call the Eastern Shore of Viriginia, or ESVA for short.  I spent most of my childhood in a small town called Onancock in the county of Accomack.

I was born and raised there until I was 18 and moved to Massachusetts.  That’s another blog for another day.

The Eastern Shore is a very small quaint area, heavily reliant on the surrounding Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay.  Lots of friends, and even some family worked on the water to make a living.  The area is also very reliant on farming.  Quite a bit of the land there is farmland.  After being in such a populated area, it is strange to go back and see the miles and miles of wide open fields and wooded areas.

My title refers to a small island on the Eastern Shore called Assateague Island.  Assateague is where we always went as kids.  It was ‘the beach”.  as a child, I can remember 25 or 30 foot tall sand dunes with stairs over them to take you out to the warm sand of the beach.  Today, after many hurricanes and Nor’easters, you can sit in the parking lot and see right out to the ocean.  It is very sad to see this when I go back to visit.  I guess I am lucky to see anything at all, as they have to truck sand in every year to restore the parking lot and part of the beach, just to keep their main tourist attraction going.

On the island, there is a National Wildlife Refuge, and a lighthouse.  The refuge is home to many wild animals, and I try to get there and photograph them every time I am in the area.  The biggest draw are the wild ponies.  You may have heard of Misty – written by Marguerite Henry.   No relation to me, as far as I know.  Every year, they swim these wild ponies across the channel and auction them off at the “Pony Swim“.

Nursing Pony

Nursing Pony

Resting

Resting

The lighthouse has always been near to my heart.  You can see it coming from Chincoteague across to Assateague Island, and I have been to see it many times.  Growing up, you could walk the sandy trail to the lighthouse and take pictures.  However, you were not allowed to go inside the lighthouse.  Back in 2006, my girlfriend Rose and I were heading to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and made a pit stop on the “Shore” to visit.  Rose had never been, so I took her to Assateague to check it out.  We walked down the little sand covered path and were very surprised to see the lighthouse door open.  Cool, I thought.  Must be a gift shop.  Not only was it a gift shop, it was a tour that allowed you to climb the lighthouse.

Assateague Light

Assateague Light

Awesome!  Let’s do it!  We climbed to the top and got another pleasant surprise.  You could go up into the actual light  area of the lighthouse.  The view was amazing.  You could see all of Assateague and most of Chincoteague.

Round and Round We Go

Round and Round We Go

Inside the Light Area

Inside the Light Area

Me Inside the Light Area - Photo by Rose Winters

Me Inside the Light Area - Photo by Rose Winters

We have been back a few times since then, but you aren’t allowed to go into the light area anymore.  Someone purchased the lighthouse and fixed the catwalk area on the outside.  Now you can go outside the lighthouse up top and walk around, just below the light.  Again, a stunning 360 degree view around the lighthouse.

So, if you’ve never been, it’s definitely a great place to visit.  If you’ve been, or live there, let me know.

See you soon...

See you soon...

In case you have asked that question, I took my header picture  at my cousin’s wedding back home in Virginia.  You see, I grew up in Virginia on the Eastern Shore.  Many of you may know it as the DelMarVa Peninsula.  Others may know areas near where I grew up such as Assateague Island or Chincoteague, home of Misty.

My cousin Bo married his wife Melanie at Camp Silver Beach, along the Chesapeake Bay.  The grounds were beautiful.  I do a lot of shooting, but wedding photography is not something I want to do.  I am afraid of screwing up or not capturing the right moments of someone’s special day.  That’s another topic for another blog.

So, me being me, I of course brought my camera with me to get some photos. It turns out that the photographer that was shooting the wedding had sort of a connection to the bride.  Melanie had been the photographer’s flower girl many years ago and the photographer was doing the shoot as a wedding gift to Bo and Melanie.  Very cool!  So, I introduced myself to Deb, and told her that if I get in the way of her shooting, just yell at me and tell me to get out of the way.  She obliged by saying that I was more than welcome to shoot along with her and even offered me use of her low light lens, as my speedlight had broken.

As we were shooting the bridal party pics on the beach, this amazing sky formed right behind us.  It was perfect.  After the bridal party shots, I grabbed a series of shots across the horizon and stitched together the panorama that is now my header.  I was so happy that I was able to be part of this shoot, without the pressure of ruining the wedding should the pics not be good.  I ended up getting a ton of shots over the two days there.  Here are some of the shots;

The Bridal Party

The Bridal Party

The Men

The Men

The Kiss

The Kiss

You can see the rest of these pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelthenry/sets/72157622565027980/

All photos ©Michael T. Henry and may not be used without permission.