Blog

Jeffrey Byrnes Photographer Fashion + Portraits + Travel

Hurricane Arthur: Photographs of Provincetown, Cape Cod

"You're crazy, you're nuts, you're going to ruin your camera," Sue said. I tried to explain to her that the Canon Camera and lens that I was shooting with, Canon 5d Markii and a 70-200mm F2.8, are weather sealed and that unless I dropped it the ocean, it could handle some rain falling on it. I stood on the concrete landing, just above the boat launch around the corner from Commercial St in Provincetown. We parked to eat lunch. We had a great view of the bay, watching the boats as the fought to stay above the white capped waves the wind was creating. In between quickly chewing bites down, I spotted a guy walking from the shore right into the water. I dropped my slice and pointed out the window, past the rain drops and off into the distance. He was wadding over towards a small boat being moored. With him he was caring a set of wheels. I couldn't believe eyes. The wind was fiercely blowing as the rain beat down on the car. Occasionally a gust would create enough turbulence the car would teeter in its space. 

Hurricane Arthur, Provincetown MA

One of warnings that we kept hearing was to be careful for the undercurrents and how powerful the water would be. As we dinned on our pizza, we watched him make his way over to the boat. He was a considerable distance from where we were, but enough that my lens at max length would capture a decent shot. What I didnt not expect was that he would be swimming, pulling the boat and wheels with him, towards us, to exit the water off the ramp we were parked next to. The moment he reached the boat is when I shoved my last bite into my mouth. Reaching over my shoulder and grabbing my camera, I ejected myself out of the car and into the rain. Standing in the pouring rain for nearly five minutes, i became drenched. At one point Sue opened the door and tried to speak over the rain and wind, saying something about how wet I would be and how I would get that in the car. I stood with my back towards the rain. The wind wiped it against me with as much force as it could give. The rain drops pierced my skin, at least thats how it felt, as it fell. I pulled up the camera and looked down the barrel of the lens as the man made his journey towards us. The power and strength this man had was unreal. His boat was consumed with water, weight, an anchor, weight, wheels, weight, the weight of the boat. He swam against the waves, wind, and falling rain. 

Hurricane Arthur

Hurricane Arthur

Eventually he was able to get his boat past the rocks and began a slow walk towards the ramp. I began to worry a bit, in that even a short amount of time his strength could have been challenged to the point of exhaustion and fatigue. I kept pressing the shutter and watching him get closer and closer. At the foot of the ramp he began to have a tough time, but was able to push through and get the boat onto the wheels. Ethics and morals were being tossed around my brain, like a hurricane. Pun intended. If I saw him in any sort of distress, I would drop the camera and be at his him in seconds. He was well aware of the fact that I was photographing him. He glanced over at me at on point during his trek and showed a faint sign for admiration, as if he knew why I was photographing him, or if he knew that he was in the position to be photographed. It was a hurricane and he entered the water to spare his boat from becoming a victim of Arthur, and an expensive fossil. 

Hurricane Arthur

I knew I had made the money shot/s. It was time to head back. It was time to get back to my lap top and edit and get these to someone who could share them. While packing for our trip, Sue asked why I felt the need to always bring my lap top. Now she knows. I have tried to explain to her that there might be that one time, that single moment, when something happens and I capture it, photograph it, it is a story that needs to be shared. She understood very well after the photographs appeared in a gallery on "Wicked Local Truro" the news outlet for the outer most portion of the cape, Provincetown and Truro. "Gallery of Photos." When I was in college, my professor would tell us stories of photographers that captured "THEE" image that gets circulated around the Associated Press, leaving the photographer with an incredible pay day to follow. While those days aren't as frequent, not that our world is short of any tragic events on the daily, but the way the world of news and media is valued and treated is different. Regardless of the changes in media, having the right resources, such as my camera and machine to edit, I can still quickly provide images, from almost anywhere. It took about two hours before I was back to my laptop. It killed me to be that patient, but being 30 mins from the house in that weather, and still wanting to meander a bit, made it process to get back. Based on the time, I knew I had a very small gap. Most publications can still insert a cover image between 7-9pm. With my email blast I was able to connect with one editor at "The Wicked Local" she was delighted and pleased that I sent her the photos. 

Gallery owner uses bucket to clear water that was flooding her store front as man on a bike passes by.

The photo of the gallery owner, above, shows just how awful the rain was that fell. It had only been raining a short time before I stumbled upon this scene. Standing in ankle deep water, she used a bucket to slow the progress of the flooding in her storefront. This was one of the first images I made as we entered the beginning of Commercial Street. Fierce winds, rain, thunderstorms, all the elements of a hurricane beat down on the cape for a day. The next day was filled with sun, soft clouds, the day after the storm was beautiful, the contrast of what I have shown you above. I survived my first hurricane. 

A few more photos can be seen in my Flickr Gallery