Our recent trip to Nags Head was characterized by sunset and nighttime photographs more than the sunrises I normally favor. Yet one of the finest images I captured was of the sunrise on the third morning (figure 1).

Figure 1. Sunrise at Nags Head, 21 November, 2021. Photo: author.

I faced two challenges that morning. Hordes of people had tramped up and down the beach, making of the sand a scuffy nightmare. The other is typical for a photographer at my stage of development: the struggle to distinguish between the pleasurable goal of photographing a sunrise (or sunset) for itself, and the more mature strategy of using the sunrise as a backdrop for something more interesting in the foreground. I’ll let you judge whether I was successful or not.

It’s a five-second photograph: it was pretty dark out. I caught this image when the rising sun was still below the horizon but lighting up the underside of the cloud layers. There are at least four systems of clouds here, which makes for visual interest.

The camera is well up on the dune above the beach, above the second series of sand-retention fences, and well away from the footprints. The fences extend from the far left side of the frame to the horizon on the right. We look through a natural break in them toward the brightest part of the image, and to where the waves’ swash reflects the orange light. The orangey sunrise strongly tints the sands in the foreground, which would be fairly white during the day.

Ripples in the sand, a little like fingerprints, trend generally from the camera toward the surf line, while the slats of the fences offer a competing series of serried lines in the vertical. There are a few interesting places where the ripples are visible through the slats in a crossing X pattern.

Jennette’s Pier, a fixture in my Nags Head photo series, rises from the shore at the horizon; its lights are a series of crisp, white dots, and the pier points out to sea where a trawler is at work with its brilliant lights on.

My thought was that through the gap in the fences we are welcome to the shore, and we in turn welcome the new day.

The lens, set at 14 mm, offers a sharp image from the first fat fence post on the left to the horizon; yet the sand and grasses right to the closest foreground, while soft, are actually quite reasonable.

Nikon Z 7ii with Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens. 14 mm, f/8, ISO 64, 5 s. Edited mostly in Apple Photos (which explains the lack of correction for lens distortion). A piece of flyblown trash caught in the left fence I didn’t notice in the dark was eliminated from the jpeg with Affinity Photo.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: