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charlespayne Aug 20
Excellent composition and balance! Congratulations!

Sunrise - Driftwood Beach





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Behind The Lens

This photo was taken on Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island in Georgia, USA. Driftwood Beach is a great location for area landscape photographers and frequently visited. This was a very spontaneous trip, leaving my home in metro Atlanta and driving down over night to shoot the Milky Way and then sunrise.
This photo was taken at sunrise on an early March Saturday morning. I has used this same tree for a Milky Way composition overnight. I knew the general location the sun would be rising, and once the sun began to get closer to the horizon, I fine tuned my composition. I would have liked to frame the sun to be in the fork of this driftwood tree, but there was a large stump just to the left out of the frame. I felt that if I used that composition it would have been too much of a distraction in the frame.
The lighting was all natural. The sun provided plenty of warm natural light to light everything perfectly. Without any clouds on the horizon, the tree in the foreground provided the perfect amount of interest to allow your eyes to work through the frame. Stopping down to f/22 allowed the perfect amount of flare I felt for this image. I shot this image starting around f/11 and settled on f/22.
As a wildlife and landscape photographer, I used my trusty Canon 7D MKII camera paired with the ultra sharp Canon 16-35L F/4. I had my camera mounted to an Vanguard 264ab tripod. To slow the shutter speed down enough to smooth the ocean out, I used an 8 stop Variable ND filter stacked with circular polarizer. I have used this setup for most of my sunrise/sunset and waterfall images. I trust it, and it works well. I didn't use a trigger here and relied on a 2 second timer.
Inspiration came from photographing the Milky Way for hours prior to taking this image. I shared the beach with about 8 other photographers that morning. In Georgia, we don't have many areas where we have minimum light pollution. The Georgia coast is the perfect place for shooting the Milky Way without the Moon of course. While I did indeed go to this location to photograph the Milky Way, I am very glad I opted to stay for Sunrise and capture this amazing image, instead of succumbing to the sleep deprivation and retiring for the evening. I stayed up a solid 50+ hours straight before finally going to bed later that evening capturing wildlife on neighboring Georgia Islands and very thankful I made those sacrifices.
This image is the final output of a 5 image bracketed exposure. Post processing of this type of capture for me generally begins in Lightroom. I will balance get everything right in Lightroom by getting the perfect White Balance for the image, adjust highlights and shadows from clipping. I will then merge to HDR in Photoshop. Once I get the merge completed and adjust the exposure I like, I will then clean up the image in Photoshop by removing any sensor dirt and such. Once completed I will save the image and open it back up in Lightroom. While in Lightroom standard workflow for me. Adjusting White Balance, exposure, etc. Often times I will use graduated filter tool in Lightroom to darken that sky and bring out the color better. This image is no exception and having the ocean as a flat line on the horizon makes that easier. Its not uncommon for me to use the Radial Filter tool as well to perform a little dodging and burning with color to emphasize where light it hitting in an image naturally, and that's what I've done here.
In my camera bag
I keep a pretty packed and large backpack as I like to shoot all types of photography. I'm still using my trusty Thinktank Street Walker Pro backpack and its heavy with all of my kit. I use two cameras now, a Canon EOS R, and a 7D MKII. My lenses are plentiful! I currently have Canon 16-35L f/4, Canon 35mm f/1.8 RF, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art, Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art, Canon 70-200mm L US IS f/2.8, Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 C.
Planning! This was a spontaneous shoot for me. I decided to drive down to the beach, about 5.5 hrs from my home, on a whim at 9PM Friday night. Upon arriving to the beach, I immediately walked out there and began shooting the Milky Way. Had I not been shooting the Milky Way, I would have not known of this exact composition. I was extremely lucky to have the opportunity, and get the shot! Time seems to be the most important thing that most of us have little of. If I had to give anyone one single piece of advice, I would say don't be afraid to take chances, be spontaneous, and make sacrifices! If I would not have don't all of those things, I would have never gotten this image, and many others on my page. Another great piece of advice, know your gear. I can set everything up, get accurate focus manually, and the perfect composition in the dark. If I didn't spend the time with my kit like I do, I would struggle, and that extra time used for getting the perfect settings could cost you the perfect capture!

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