In our 20-20 Vision course, my son Brad and I teach our photography students 20 concepts we use in building strong images. We like to think of these concepts as 20 distinctly different arrows in our photography quiver that we can draw from. This is the best image I have ever made of Little Sable Point Lighthouse, not only because I used a lot of image-building arrows, but because each of them was right on target maximizing the visual impact of the photograph. The dramatic clouds in the mid-October sky enabled me to use one of my favorite arrows: “Clouds are your friends.” Not only were there great clouds, but at the moment of exposure, the clouds were wonderfully positioned in relationship to the lighthouse. This was the fifth consecutive morning I had made the 60-mile round trip to Little Sable Point. I determined the ideal spot to place my tripod on the first day. My goal was to create a three-layer “Grand Scenic” layer cake, marrying foreground, middle-ground and background elements together in a beautiful union. A triangular mound of dune grass provided the perfect foreground and base in which to place my camera. This foreground layer was the most essential layer to make viewers of my finished photograph feel as though they were actually standing there with me. Brad and I strive to make photographs that transcend from pictures to experiences. We want viewers to step right into the scene. I designed and built a strong image that first morning. All the compositional elements were in place. All that was needed now was God’s “magic light” to finish the image. Four mornings in a row I watched and waited. On the fifth morning the light was sharp, the westerly wind was building up some great waves into repetitive patterns, and the clouds looked especially stunning and powerful. After 100 cold minutes, a bright beam of light appeared headed my way like a giant search light. As the light hit the lighthouse, I began shooting. A few seconds later the light also lit the dune grass in front of my camera and tripod. For about five seconds in five days, one of the most glorious shoreline scenes I have ever witnessed lay before me. Then the magic light moved on, and the scene became so much less moving. I and other photographers have made subsequent photographs from almost exactly the same spot. I don’t think Mother Nature will ever duplicate this day. I thank God I realized the need to persevere and be there at this amazing moment.

Storm Light - Panoramic

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