Capturing an Incredible Ocean Grove Sunrise

I finally got out for a sunrise and what a sunrise it was! Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. – Babe Ruth⁠

Cover photo sunrise specs:
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Exposure: 35mm – 1/4 sec

I’ve always liked this quote – Babe knew a lot about striking out but it didn’t keep him from being one of the all-time greats and setting records that took decades (and drugs?) to break. ⁠I chose this quote because I almost stayed home on the morning I made these images. I woke up early but wasn’t convinced that the conditions were going to be overly favorable, it would have been easy to go back to bed. I chose to go anyway and was treated to one of the best sunrise photo sessions that I have had in a very long time.⁠

Sunrise specs:
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Exposure: 26mm – 4 sec

I arrived rather late – about 6:10 AM for a 6:37 AM sunrise but I am quite familiar with the location and already had a composition in mind so I really need the extra time to scout. I was walking down to the water when I noticed a photographer with a tripod set up at the end of the pier; I asked if I was going to be in his way and he assured me I would not. It seemed to be that he was only interested in the horizon but it didn’t matter, he was gone about 10 minutes later.

Sunrise specs:
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Exposure: 39mm – 1/15 sec

I set up with the remains of the jetty as my foreground, grabbed a few images and then a fisherman looked at me, decided he wanted to get in the picture and stood right in the middle of my composition. DAMN! I had to move…. All was not lost, though. I moved to the other side of the pier, got Ralph in the frame and squeezed off a few. I guess I should thank Mr. Fisherman but not today. The fishing must not have been very good because a few minutes after making me move, he went back to where he was – as did I.

This was right about the time that the sun started peeking over the horizon. This was also when the waves were getting a bit larger, more frequent and reaching me. I got so engrossed in the scene playing out in front of me that I did not notice the encroaching water. That is, until it washed over my feet and lower third of my tripod! Yes, I ended up getting wet to about four (4) or five (5) inches above my ankles and the first two sections of my tripod – it wasn’t fully extended. The soaking repeated a few times but after the first there was really no reason to move; actually, the exact opposite was true. I was in the perfect location this morning.

Sunrise specs:
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Exposure: 106mm – 1/13 sec

As the sun was moving higher on the horizon, I adjusted my composition to get in tighter on the rocks and crashing waves while still getting some of the Golden Hour color. I was so engrossed in what was happening I failed to see the low-battery warning light flashing. A quick look in my bag for my back-up battery yielded nothing. I never put it back in my bag after charging it! Having a spare battery is a great thing – leaving it on your dresser isn’t……. A few minutes later everything went dark, the battery was dead.

Sunrise specs:
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Exposure: 163mm – 1/10 sec

It’s just as well. I was losing the light; my feet were soaked, and I had to get back to the house to work. That is the one silver-lining to this pandemic – I now work from home full-time and so getting ready for work is simply sitting at the computer and logging in. It also gave me an opportunity to upload my images to see what I got. A few quick edits and then sharing with some friends for initial feedback. Their reactions confirmed my excitement and I spent much of my lunchtime refining the images. It wasn’t until this second editing session that I noticed the little blue float and rope tangled up in the rocks. It appears in a few images, but I would like to have been a bit more deliberate and purposely include it in a few compositions. Fortunately, it is still there, and I can go back whenever I want. Perhaps the next time I will go for a sunset and get that wonderful golden glow on the face of the rocks!

Sunrise specs:
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Exposure: 146mm – 1/30 sec

Technical information:

  • Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i (crop sensor – 1.6 factor)
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
  • Tripod: MeFOTO Roadtrip Classic
  • All images – ISO 100
  • All focal lengths are as-recorded – the full-frame equivalent would be the value shown times 1.6.
  • Focus was done manually. The camera was in “aperture-priority” and all images are at f/8.0. The shutter was tripped with a wired remote.

This originally appeared on Exploring Photography with Joe Valencia. Learn more about Joe here.

All photos by Joe Valencia. Follow him on Instagram.


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