Hunting Island Beach Sunrise

My workshop experience in South Carolina last February began with a beach shoot at sunrise. After waking up at around 4:30 am, we all met and carpooled to the location in Hunting Island State Park, a 20-minute drive from Beaufort. We arrived in darkness, so our flashlights lit the 1/2-mile walk to the beach.

We arrived at the beach just as twilight was beginning to reveal a surreal landscape. This particular stretch of beach is strewn with the skeletons of large trees, killed and blackened by the encroaching ocean. The crescent moon  provided me a catch light in the sky for a few shots like this one:

Hunting Island Beach Pre-dawn
Nikkor 16-35mm VR @ 18mm, ISO 1600, 1/8 sec. @ f/7.1, Nikon D700

I quickly looked for an interesting foreground subject to use in a composition featuring the gorgeous sunrise sky. Most of the trees were too large to work for what I had in mind, and were surrounded by other fallen trees that would be messy distractions in a landscape shot.

It didn’t take long for me and a few other workshop participants to focus in on a small tree at the far end of “the graveyard.” I set up my tripod at a low height and used an ultra-wide angle focal length to exaggerate the shape of the tree and to take in what was turning out to be a spectacular sky. Here is one of my favorite compositions:

Hunting Island Beach Sunrise
Hunting Island Beach, Nikkor 16-35mm @ 18mm, ISO 320, 1/40 sec. @ f/10, Nikon D700

I wanted to retain a little detail in the tree and beach, so I used the one-exposure-HDR technique for this image.

After “the show” was over, I turned my attention to the rest of the beach and surroundings. Looking the other direction (west), you can see the forest that appears to be watching and waiting for their turn to be claimed by the ocean:

Hunting Island Beach
Hunting Island Beach, Nikkor 16-35mm @ 16mm, ISO 400, 1/100 sec. @ f/9, Nikon D700

In the next post I will show some shots from later that day as we explored the rest of the island and area surrounding Beaufort.

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One Response to “Hunting Island Beach Sunrise”

  1. Marly

    I can’t decide which of these I like best, but the first shot with the moon is starting to win out. I’ll have to study them more I guess!


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