The Outer Banks: Piers and Lighthouses






In the last post I shared some pelican images from my recent Outer Banks trip. In this post I’m going to share some of the scenic images taken during the trip. As mentioned previously, I had limited time available for photography and used Jared Lloyd’s ebook to plan my photo outings. I spent two mornings photographing sunrise at Jennette’s Pier and one night each at Currituck Beach Lighthouse and Bodie Island Lighthouse. I wish I’d had time to also search out more unique photo opportunities, but due to time factors I concentrated on these more iconic locations.  I often incorporate light painting in my low light photography and did so in some of these images.  For those interested, at the end of this post I’ll provide some reference sources that I have found helpful in learning about night photography and light painting.


I used an HP 550 (1000 lumen) led flashlight to add some light to the fence, sand, and pier house in the first two images. I took several shots of each scene, light painting different areas in each shot, then combined the images in Photoshop.


No light painting in this scene. When I do sunrise images of piers, I almost always prefer the images taken before the sun actually rises above the horizon. I really love the colors of the pre-dawn sky. In this situation I was hoping the rising sun would light up the clouds with a red glow. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur on this occasion. Another aspect of pre-sunrise pier  images that I really like is the effect of pier lights on the scene. I think the reflections of the lights on the water as well as the starburst effect from the lights themselves (that occurs when you use a small aperture) can really add additional visual  impact.

BodieIslandLighthouse20140223_D800_9841 BodieIslandLighthouse20140223_D800_9855

No light painting at all in the first image of Bodie Island Lighthouse. A little light painting on the foreground grasses was performed in the second.

CurrituckLighthouse20140222_D800_9540 CurrituckLighthouse20140222_D800_9548 CurrituckLighthouse20140222_D800_9528

In these three images of Currituck Beach Lighthouse, light painting was used on two of them.  I light painted the arch of the wooden bridge in the second image and also painted some light on the tree branches in the third image.

Below are a few references that I found very helpful in my own efforts at learning how to do night photography. 

The best overall reference book on night photography (of the five or six that I have read) is Lance Keimig’s Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the Dark (2010). The book is thorough and extremely well written.   Another book I recommend is Eric Curry’s Painting with Light: Lighting and Photoshop Techniques for Photographers (2012). His images will both amaze and inspire you.  

I also recommend several internet resources:

Check out the Best Tips menu item for a listing of numerous articles on night photography

Another great source of night photography info. Check out the Resources menu item for links to the most useful articles.

Lots of useful information on night photography and light painting, including several interesting articles on photographing fireflies.

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