So if anyone was driving south down hwy 12 on the Outer Banks past the Bodie Island Lighthouse and saw some strange guy standing on the roof of a truck back in the early part of November, that was me!
I have been after this specific photograph for a while. Or, well, what I should really say is that I have been after this particular photograph with a flock of swans flying through right at this moment for a while. Big difference! Personally I think the swans really balance out the composition and help to tell a story about this place. In the Fall and Winter, swans pile up in these ponds behind the Bodie Island Lighthouse and I have really wanted a silhouette of them flying by like this at sunset for a while.
This is a pretty easy photograph to create. . . let me tell you how its done!
First and foremost, this is for obvious reason and afternoon shot. If you want the silhouette of this lighthouse I recommend getting in place about an hour before the sun begins to set. Why? Because to create this photograph you have to either climb up on top of the roof of your vehicle like me, of you have to climb up the dunes and position yourself in the right spot shooting back at the lighthouse.
Just park along the side of hwy 12 and climb up. You will tweak your composition a bit here and there so you want to be there early to have everything dialed in before hand.
Now, in order to create the silhouette you have two options in terms of how to look at making this photograph. You can either: A. think about underexposing the lighthouse, or B. exposure for the sky. Confused? Don’t be.
I shoot landscapes in manual mode only. And in situations like this I use spot metering. So all I did was spot metered the sky and opened up my exposure by 1/3 of a stop.
If you are shooting in Aperture Priority mode and / or Matrix Metering (Evaluative for you Canon folks) then just dial in a negative exposure compensation of 2 full stops.
This will create the silhouette you are looking for and you can tweak the exposure from there.
Now, if you want to capture that beautiful ribbon of water reflecting the orange of the sky, then you will have to shoot this just after the sun actually sets. The sun is too bright. It will blow out any reflection int he water. As soon as the sun sets however, the light in the sky and water is equal in intensity and you can capture that color that really helps to make this photograph pop!
That’s it. Super simple!