The Magic of Sunrise & Sunset

Early Morning Beach Scene
Early Morning Beach Scene

Photographers and painters are keenly aware of the dramatic scenery available at the beginning and ending of each day.  The low angle of the sun creates powerful side and back lighting opportunities for the artist to uniquely shape their subject.  Additionally, the warmer color temperature and increased contrast add further visual interest.  Of equal importance, I believe the artist must capture the feeling or experience of being there at these special times of day.

A view of the western half of Ocean Isle Beach presents a dramatic landscape near sunset in early July. Additional warming and contrast were achieved by processing the image to emulate modern Kodachrome slide film.
Ocean Isle Beach Sunset West
Ocean Isle Sunset 1
Ocean Isle Sunset 1

Many cultures, philosophies and faiths recognize the inherent beauty and power bestowed at sunrise and sunset.   I remember reading years ago Henry Ward Beecher referring to the first hour of the morning as the “rudder of the day.” At a physiological level, these times mark transitions in the daily cycle of life.  Sunrise is also the meditative time to peacefully reflect and prepare or the day to come.  At sunset, we also reflect and unwind from the stresses of the day, while preparing to rest our body and mind.  We all experience this ritual at some level of consciousness.  Even today, medical and wellness experts continue to tell us, to the degree we embed ourselves in the meditative opportunities at these special times of day, the healthier and more enjoyable we will live our lives.

So, it is this magical, if not also mystical, experience of a peaceful sunrise or beautiful sunset I hope to capture in my work.  I don’t think it’s sometimes referred to as the golden hour just as a reference to the warmth of a rising or setting sun.

These images are from my July 2015 vacation at Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.  Click on an image to see a higher resolution version of each image on my photography portfolio site: csyjr.photoshelter.com.  I’d also love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

Ferry Landing Park at Ocean Isle Beach

The week of July 4th my family vacationed at Ocean Isle Beach (OIB), North Carolina. It’s one of the many barrier islands running west to east just east of the South Carolina border.

Sunset Scene at Ferry Landing Park
Sunset Scene at Ferry Landing Park
Crab Fisherman at Sunset
Crab Fisherman at Sunset

The Intracostal Waterway separates the island from the mainland. On the east end of the island is Ferry Landing Park, which features a small fishing pier on the channel and public access to the adjacent marshland. Here I found great photo ops, especially late in the day.
Both local folks and visitors love the area for its beautiful scenery and great fishing & crabbing.

Sunset Scene at Ferry Park Landing
required quite a bit of experimentation in Lightroom with the luminance settings for green and yellow to get the right level of contrast and tonality within the grass areas, and between the grass areas and the water.  The image was finished by making adjustments to the Agfa APX 100 filter in Alien Skin’s Exposure 7.  Crab Fisherman at Sunset was fun to process.  I experimented here as well with various color tweaks.  Finishing  in ASE7 with a Kodachrome 25 emulation filter gave the image some additional polish.