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I am Nikonians

Paul Blais (PBlais) Interview

Marsha Edmunds (meadowlark2)


Keywords: landscape, photography, nikonians, pblais, virginia

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Paul Blais is a passionate photographer who has specialized in recent times on dramatic and vibrant shots of the ocean from the shore at the magical times of sunrise and sunset.  His willingness to give up the comforts of home and to get to locations so early speaks to his love and dedication to do what it takes to capture stunning images.  Paul is a regular contributor on Nikonians and supports others with his sage advice.

“I reside with my wife and 3 dogs in Gloucester County, Virginia. It’s across the York River from Yorktown, Virginia. There is a lot of history here. It’s pretty much flat and a lot of the land is not quite solid adjacent to Chesapeake Bay. Close to home I shoot water all times of the day! It’s every place. We used to sail on the Chesapeake Bay and I still do sometimes on other people’s boats. There are some good bird opportunities. We have Great Blue and Great White Herons in the backyard all the time. Osprey are quite common too.

01

Nags Head - 1
Nikon D7100, Sigma 18-35mm @ 20 mm, f/9.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 1250, on tripod
Click for an enlargement

 

I shoot mostly landscape but I will do some portraiture, macro, and infrared. I have friends that will show up in the dark to shoot sunrises. It’s not an easy thing to do. Sunsets are easier because you show up when it’s light out. It can be both social and professional at the same time. I also started shooting infrared. It’s something else with lots of variables and great in bright full sun. I shoot Lensbaby as well. I like being outside and I have camped out across a wide portion of North America. All days added together I’ve spent close to 3 years in a tent. I don’t shoot birds or weddings. It’s OK if others do.

02

Nags Head - 2
Nikon D7100, Sigma 8-16mm @ 8 mm, f/7.1, 1/160 sec, ISO 400, on tripod
Click for an enlargement

 

My landscape work is the main thing. I show in two galleries and sell a few pictures once in a while.

03

St Lucia Sunset
D7100, Sigma 8-16mm @ 8 mm, f/16, 1/20 sec, ISO 400
On tripod, all the way on the ground
Click for an enlargement

 

I’ve been involved in online communities for about 30 years. I find them great resources for many types of activities both personal and professional. I came to Nikonians with those expectations. It includes giving back more than you get and loving it. You meet a lot of interesting people and from all over the world. It can change how you think. Thinking better leads to better results. Learning alternatives leads to more opportunities.

04

York River Sunset
Nikon D7200, Tokina 11-16 @ 12 mm, f/6.3, 1/8 sec, ISO 100
On tripod and a 3-stop Graduated Filter
Click for an enlargement

 

From Nikonians I have learned little things that have made me slap my forehead once I found them. Little things you never knew are usually important and easily integrated. Hard things take more time. At this point I come back to share with friends and help new people. I still find new things and new techniques as well. I like gear so there is all of that and more here as well. It’s a great people place as photography encompasses a wide variety of people yet share a common goal of taking better pictures. Lots of great photographers sharing every day!

05

Rainbows End
Nikon D7200, Tokina 11-16mm @ 16mm, f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO 100, handheld
Click for an enlargement

 

By way of advice - Take bad pictures and learn why they are bad. If you have a hard time learning from mistakes, then you’ll have a harder time getting better. Great pictures come from “Maximizing your chances of being lucky!” As your skill levels and experience increase being lucky still counts!

06

Old Boat Sunset
Nikon D7200, Tokina 11-16mm @ 11mm f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 100
Tripod all the way down on the ground
Click for an enlargement

 

The most memorable shoot was about 2 years ago. I learned very important things that have lasted. I got the idea to drive down to Nags Head, North Carolina and shoot sunrises on the Ocean. It’s a 2 ½ hour drive and in July you don’t try this on a weekend. There really isn’t much traffic on Monday at 2 AM. There were clouds predicted so I was prepared for a good shoot; you need something in the sky. The sun came up about 45 degrees to the south. It was just water and a thin strip of sand. I was about 40 minutes away and the fog rolled in and it started raining. I was too close to turn back and by the time I got there the rain was over and the fog was gone. First light was started but cloud cover made it pretty dark.

07

Back River Sunrise
Nikon D7100, Sigma 18-35mm @ 18 mm, f/8.0, 30 sec, ISO 100
On tripod, and with 6-stop ND filter
Click for an enlargement

 

I found a nice public beach access to park and hauled about half the gear up and over the dune and left the rest in reserve. In July, the sunrise lasts a long time. With the extra cloud cover it lasted longer. I spent about 30 minutes waiting to get enough light so I could stop the waves at a decent shutter speed through thick clouds. I wanted something for foreground. I then shot “Nags Head 1”. 

08

Back Creek
Nikon D7200, Sigma 8-16mm @ 8mm, f/5.6, 30 sec, ISO 100, on tripod
Click for an enlargement

 

Standing around on a beach I thought I had seen all I could see in 45 minutes standing in the same spot. This was the lesson! You can’t see everything that quickly. Human vision is quite poor and your brain is quick to conclude – “nothing more to see”. Studying the waves I found there was a spot where the waves came in slightly different. Something below the water made them bend a bit. I moved a short distance down the beach and decided to wait for the moment. I started doing test shots as the sun light increased and the waves were coming ashore nicely. I took what I thought was “it” but 9 seconds later I took the best shot of the trip and maybe the whole summer - “Nags Head 2”. I got an amazing foreground wave with a reflection against a pretty sky. The idea that there was a shot to get and waiting for it to happen was never proven to me more. It’s the same pattern I now follow for all my sunrise / sunset shoots. Show up early and don’t quit. Keep looking and study how the light changes and what it falls on.”

Thanks, Paul, for your inspiring images and for taking the time and effort to share your background and observations with all of us at Nikonians.  Reading what you have written is motivational and informative helping us to dream of setting out to identify locations with potential, to capture magical land and seascapes, to hone our skills and do what it takes to shoot images more skillfully.

Originally written on January 30, 2020

Last updated on January 30, 2020

Marsha Edmunds Marsha Edmunds (meadowlark2)

Donor Ribbon awarded for her support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Fellow Ribbon awarded for her continuous encouragement and meaningful comments in the spirit of Nikonians. Donor Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Awarded for her in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.  Awarded for winning in The Best of Nikonians 2019 Photo Contest

Lethbridge, Canada
Team, 9392 posts

More articles by Marsha Edmunds

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8 comments

Paul Cassidy (PCassidy) on May 7, 2020

This is a brilliant exhibit of Landscape. Very inspirational makes me want to get off the farm. . . Thanks for the posting

NATHAN FRISBY (natpat) on February 29, 2020

Great photos by Paul, I enjoy reading and notice that he was using DX cameras for most of his work. You can feel the moment of so many of the features and details in his work. I think when you can leave an feeling to someone just by them looking and being able to connect to the location, time and setting as if they were there you have succeeded in making art.

Marsha Edmunds (meadowlark2) on February 14, 2020

Donor Ribbon awarded for her support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Fellow Ribbon awarded for her continuous encouragement and meaningful comments in the spirit of Nikonians. Donor Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Awarded for her in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.  Awarded for winning in The Best of Nikonians 2019 Photo Contest

It was great reviewing these splendid images again, Paul, and reviewing your remarks. The views you capture truly are extraordinary with all you do to capture the best.

Carman Pagano (the diewrecktor) on February 11, 2020

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Paul, I've been following your progress since you joined Nikonians. Great work, thanks for sharing with us, and thanks again to Marsha for a great job facilitating these insights to Nikonians members.

Robert Wightman (robwig) on February 4, 2020

Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Ribbon awarded for his most generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017

I always enjoyed your images Paul. It's great to learn about the photographer behind them.

Tom Jacob (sevendayimages) on January 31, 2020

Awarded for his continuous knowledge and images sharing with community members Awarded for his win at the Best of Nikonians 2016 Photo Contest Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas. Awarded for winning in The Best of Nikonians 2019 Photo Contest

Thanks for sharing your life a bit with us Paul :) Excellent images to go with it!

John D. Roach (jdroach) on January 30, 2020

Fellow Ribbon awarded. John exhibits true Nikonian spirit by frequently posting images and requesting comments and critique, which he graciously accepts. He is an inspiration to all of us through constant improvement in his own work, keen observations and excellent commentary on images posted by others. Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his most generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his generous contribution to the 2019 Fundraising campaign Awarded for winning in The Best of Nikonians 2019 Photo Contest

Very nice article and images. Well done.

Gavin Duffy (Gaduf) on January 30, 2020

Hi Paul, A very interesting and informative article, Your pictures are superb and set the bar for me ,and I’m sure many fellow Nikonians, Thanks for sharing, Gavin

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