Sunset at Clarks Bay

I wanted to capture one of the spectacular OBX sunsets that I had heard so much about. But this was a family vacation, and my wife insisted that I be home for the extended family dinners we had planned. Based on my estimates, there wasn't time to eat dinner and still make it somewhere to set up the tripod and camera for a sunset shoot.

But .... on the fourth night, the families decided that perhaps we each needed some individual family time. I convinced my family that we should eat nearby. The Rodanthe Pier would only be a few minutes drive, and I would have time after dinner for some sunset photography.

We decided to eat at St. Waves Seafood & Steak. But … our venue turned out to be disappointing1, so we grabbed some deli sandwiches from The Waves Market next door. I had read that sunsets in the OBX are spectacular, especially on the bayside, and given that I now had a lot more time, I drove to Clark's Bay.

We found a picnic area with seating and an excellent view of the bay. We ate and talked about how much we were enjoying the vacation. This didn't last long because, at the start of the golden hour, the beach was suddenly over-run with the evening sand fleas that started to chew on Bhavana and my daughter, Kiran. Interestingly my son, Shaan, and I were not affected. My wife and kids escaped to the safety of the car, and I was left by myself to think about where I would set up for the shoot.

While my family sat safely in the car, I set up the camera in several spots, capturing images each time. But it wasn’t until just before sunset that I found this viewpoint. I think this is the best of the series of images I took that evening.

I started with three images at different exposures (-2/0/+2) and combined them in Photomatix and applied the Natural preset.

In Adobe Lightroom, I applied the VSCO Kodak Gold 100 Warm preset and then adjusted the following:

  • Post-Crop Vignette Amount: -21
  • Post-Crop Vignette Midpoint: 0
  • Post-Crop Vignette Roundness: 51
  • Grain: 0

I used the Upright tool to level the horizon and removed several sensor dust spots.

I then pulled the resulting image into Photoshop and used the content aware-fill tools to remove some debris in the grass area, the edge of a picnic table, and a distracting branch from the dead tree on the left that was "hanging" in the upper left of the frame.

Kiran thinks Waves has the best sandwiches. | Wednesday 2 September, 2015 | Apple iPhone 6 | iPhone 6 back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 | ISO 32

  1. Turns out St. Waves Seafood & Steak is a raw and cooked seafood store. Not a sit-down restaurant as my wife had thought.