Daybreak, Bulls Island, South Carolina, USA by Tom Elenbaas

Living and working in Southern California, I don’t have an opportunity to photograph the eastern part of the United States without making a special trip for that purpose. Returning to Charleston and the low country of South Carolina was high on my list (I had been there about 15 years ago) so I decided to visit this past spring when the azaleas would be in full bloom. Wanting to make the most productive use of my time I joined a workshop hosted by South Carolina locals Keith and Tiffany Briley. One of the highlights of the trip was an early morning boat trip to Bulls Island and the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge with the intent of photographing the Milky Way rising above the island’s boneyard beach. Although thick clouds prevented us from shooting the night sky, as the sun began to rise over the Atlantic Ocean we were treated to a colorful show of orange, pink and blue. One particular snag caught my fancy. Isolating it from the clutter of rocks, trees and broken limbs littering the shoreline, I was able to contrast the light and dark texture of the tree trunk against the pastel backdrop of the early morning clouds. A 10-stop neutral density filer allowed me to achieve an exposure of more than 4 minutes, calming the water and letting the clouds radiate across the dawn sky. Sony a7Riii, Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens @ 104mm, f/11, ISO 50.

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