Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not an early riser by nature. Years of working in bars and playing music, coupled with a terrible tendency towards insomnia, have led me to treasure deep sleep whenever I can get it, and that means I've missed a lot of mornings in my life. But if the forecast calls for surf, or just the possibility of interesting light, I'll drag myself out of whatever stage of slumber I'm in, and be on the beach at dawn, camera at the ready.
The photo above came as a result of one of those mornings. A storm was passing, the forecast called for light southwest winds, and there was a certain kind of upper-level activity that had my senses tingling. There was no potential for surf, but I knew the light was going to be good. I set my alarm for 5 AM.
It was a rare and beautiful sunrise, one of the most sublime mornings I've ever experienced on the Outer Banks. The ocean was a sheet of glass, and the nimbo-cirrus-stratus cloud formations were dancing in the sky, in all the colors of the rainbow. My camera was virtually jumping out of my hands, trying to capture it all.
This shot, taken of the town from the top of a dune, was somewhat of an afterthought. I had climbed the dune to get a higher perspective on the ocean, which was going off with insane reflections of the morning sun and a host of swirling cloud formations. When I got to the top, however, I looked out over the town and saw this geometric vision of blue and white curls rising above the streets and houses like so many eyes of God, watching over our little community. A few instinctive snaps and I was done.
As I've lived with the images from that day -- and there are many still in my portfolio and in this project -- I keep coming back to this one. There's something about the big sky hanging over the little town, some kind of symbolism about the way we live our lives here on the Outer Banks, surrounded by sea and sky, something redemptive, something hopeful. I can't quite put my finger on it.
Moral of the story? As I learned as a bartender, always keep your peripheral vision in play. The things you see out of the corner of your eye, or behind you, above you, below you --the things you weren't looking for -- will more often than not yield sleepers, surprise images which will often stand out in the edit like diamonds among pearls. And that's worth waking up early for.