Saturday, Sept. 12 marked the fourth annual Sunrise Lighthouse Photography cruise with host photographer Michael Leonard. Vessel Balmy Days left Pier 8 at 6 a.m. sharp with nearly 30 people all wearing appropriate facial masks ready to capture the very best light on the region’s lighthouses. Sunrise that morning was at 6:14 and the first lighthouse we saw at daybreak was Burnt Island Light. The warm sun on the tower made it look orange and the overall scene very colorful.
Ram Island was the next light where the still early morning light nicely illuminated the tower and walkway. A favorite angle that can only be done by boat is to capture Ram Island light in the foreground with the Cuckolds framed up nicely under the walkway — both bathed in the morning light. Another unique perspective of Ram Island happened when we circled the island and caught the rocky foreground with just the light tower appearing above.
Perhaps upstaging the view of the lighthouses was an eagle aggressively pursuing an osprey that had caught a fish. The air battle was quite a spectacle to see.
Traditionally the Cuckolds Light Station can be seen from Newagen town wharf and the best time to see it is typically in the late afternoon when the angle of the sun lights the structure. But in the morning the best look angle is from the eastern side of the lighthouse and here again is where a boat is the only way to get the shot with the favorable light.
Hendricks Head is one of the few lighthouses in the area that can be seen from land with good light in the morning — what’s best is to find a time where the tide is low to be able to walk out to and climb up on the rock in the cove to get a good look angle but this year the higher tide was in our favor and Captain Bill Campbell was able to maneuver the vessel a bit closer to shore in such a fashion as to nicely capture the morning light on the tower and building.
Circling Southport Island we saw some more birds, passed through the swing bridge and on the way back to Pier 8 we made a brief stop at a private residence light ending the tour.
While you can see these same sights on a traditional harbor cruise, a photography cruise affords you more time to make shots of the landmarks and at the very best time of the day with respect to lighting. Even if you just come along to view the lights those aboard got to see them in the very best light and those with cameras have lasting memories in pictures to look back at. Already plans are in the works for the fifth annual Sunrise Lighthouse Photography cruise in 2021 — stay tuned for details.