This past Saturday, I got up at 0300, loaded my gear in the car, and drove to Chincoteague NWR by way of the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge, and timed it to be on the bridge at the right location before sunrise. It was an easy, peaceful drive down I-95 and I-64 and then SR13 to the bridge. “Easy,” because most people were still tucked in their beds, and there was hardly anyone else on the road.
After getting to the bridge, I stopped at the first tunnel entrance, parked, grabbed my D700 and 24-70mm lens that I had mounted on my tripod the night before, and went to the edge of the tunnel island. It was around 0630, and the sun would be coming up within about 10-15 minutes. The sky’s colors were changing rapidly in hue and saturation as the sun became more visible as it rose above the horizon. The the bright orange and red colors were gorgeous. No two sunrises are ever the same.
Below, are a couple of the images taken from the bridge. There was a freighter not moving and in the frame, so I moved to get a better alignment. I was pleased that the freighter was there, because it made the images more interesting and provided dimensional contrast. (Click on the image to zoom in.)
The sun beginning to rise above the horizon. It was clear and a warm 70 degrees. What a beautiful morning. The short evening and long drive were already well worth it, and the weekend on the Eastern Shore had only begun. One more image (below) from the bridge.
After the sun had fully risen above the horizon, the colors had muted and the glare was intense. It was time to move north. Immediately after crossing the Chesapeake, I quickly turned off the main road, SR 13, and followed SR 600, which wound around the shoreline from small town to small town with farms and farmland as far I could see. Another pleasant drive! However, this one was also scenic.
There were many small wilderness areas that I explored along the way. I could easily have spent the entire day at anyone of them. However, at the first wilderness area, that included a large wetland leading to the ocean, there I were huge swarms of large aggressive mosquitos. (Can there be more than one swarm? Swarm already means MANY. However, if swarm can be plural, then there were swarms.) I began to notice that as soon as I stopped the car, it was immediately covered in mosquitos just waiting for me to open a door.
At that first stop, I covered all exposed skin with a strong repellent and began to walk along a trail leading to the ocean through a wetland. It was a very interesting trail with different trees and plants than I regularly see in northern Virginia. Unfortunately, the mosquitos followed me and called in reinforcements–more swarms. The repellent kept them from biting me for the most part, but they were also biting me through my t-shirt and jeans. I had to retreat to the car.
The mosquitos were everywhere I stopped and all over the Refuge at Chincoteague. I reapplied the repellent at every stop for the entire weekend. If I didn’t, they bit me and spread the word. So, as you look at the following images, keep in mind that behind the camera, I was waving my hands, scratching and slapping away.
And then, the sun began to rise. The colors changed rapidly. It was another spectacular sunrise. However, I was being eaten alive behind the camera. The mosquitos were everywhere to include on the end of the lens, between my glasses and eyes, and places I will not mention.
After the above image, it was time to take a break from the mosquitos and get into the car. While changing locations, I noticed a Great White Egret and was able photograph it before the masses of mosquitos found me.
After shooting the Sunday morning sunrise at Chincoteague, and providing breakfast for a bunch of persistent mosquitos, I drove to Blackwater NWR in Cambridge, Maryland.
It’s time to conclude this article. I will post an article tomorrow evening with images from Blackwater. HOWEVER, if you made it all the way down to the bottom of this article and are reading this, then you get to see a special image that I was able to shoot when photographing the sunrise at Chincoteague. In the below image are five Canada Geese that flew directly toward and over me, and I was prepared to capture them.