Sunrise Photography at Goddard Memorial State Park

Sunrise Photography Tips
A quick cell phone snapshot as I setup my Canon T3i for some sunrise photography.

Over the past month I’ve been making an effort to get up early and sneak in some photography time before work.  I’ve been focused on capturing great sunrise images.  I thought I’d take a minute to share my experiences and offer a few tips.

Two things happened recently that sparked a renewed excitement.

First, I discovered Goddard Memorial State Park, an amazing location with a wonderful beach area, miles of super-wide trials used by horses and hikers, and enormous picnic areas scattered throughout.

Map of Goddard State Park

I fell in love with the location and began scoping it out for photography opportunities.  Almost immediately I thought about capturing some sunrise images from the beach areas.  I teach early morning classes and a sunrise was something I could do before class starts.

I pulled up a Google Map of the park and noticed almost the entire shoreline faces the West.  There was only a small little area at the upper most tip of the property that might have a views of the East.

Satellite View of Goddard State Park
Satellite View - Northern Tip of Goddard Memorial State Park

Reviewing maps of the area saved me lots of time and helped me better understand the layout of the park.

Zooming in on the upper portion of the park and switching over to the satellite view revealed a beach area, some sort of dock, and rock wall extending off the point.  The spot looked promising.

Location Scout
I decided to stop by the park one day after class to see if there were any trails that would get me over to this area.  I was blown away!  The spot was perfect and accessed easily using the trail system.  From a photography standpoint it had countless opportunities.

1st Attempt
I was so excited about this location that I decided to go back the very next morning.  I set my alarm for 4:30am (after getting home from work at midnight) and headed to the park.  I was really unprepared…no tripod, no flashlight, not even sure what time sunrise was, or if the park entrance would be open.

Considering my over exuberance and poor planning everything work out well.  It was cold, near 32 degrees in the morning, thankfully the wide trails were easy to follow in the dark and I arrive to the spot in super early.  Once I reached the beach area I had a decided to look up what time the sun would rise on my cell phone.  I was an hour early, which gave me plenty of time to setup and think about shots I wanted to get.

Here’s one of the better shots from the first day:

Greenwich Bay Sunrise
Greenwich Bay Sunrise from Goddard Memorial State Park in November. Shot with a Canon T3i using a three shot HDR technique, 18mm Lens, 400 ISO, and Aperture of 8

Stay tuned for more posts on my photo adventures at Goddard Memorial State Park…  Comments welcome!

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