York River Summer Sunrise

September 20, 2021

Couple of weeks ago, I went to downtown Yorktown, Virginia to photograph a beautiful York River summer sunrise. I had not been to Yorktown in years. Actually, this was the first time I was here with my camera to do some photography. I always like finding and scouting out new photography locations for sunrise and wildlife subjects.

When I am not photographing for a conservation story, I enjoy getting out into the field to do some nature photography like this York River summer sunrise opportunity.

The Blue Hour

I arrived in Yorktown, Virginia an hour before the actual time of sunrise to scout out a good location. I wanted to find the spot where I would start taking my sunrise pictures. There were so many options at this location, but I did scope out and find a starting point.

At least 45 minutes before sunrise, the skies were getting really orange. In addition, there was a small cloud along the horizon that would give some drama to my sunrise compositions. With such intense orange colors in the sky there was not much of a true blue hour that morning.

Summer sunrise on the York River from the view of the beach in Yorktown, Virginia.
York River Summer Sunrise which was photographed in the blue hour just before the actual sunrise. The blue hour is the time before the sunrises and just after the sunset when the light is the softest. Usually the 30 minutes just sunrise and just after sunset will have the best colors in the sky to take your sunrise or sunset images.

Actual Time of Sunrise on York River

When the sun begins to crest over the horizon, I hardly every photograph the actual ball of sun. There are certain times when I do. Those times are when there are clouds to help diffuse the brightness of the light coming from the sun or when I photograph the ball of sun through a pier or other structure. The sun is a notoriously poor photographic subject.

Most often when photographing sunrises, I use other methods such as ND (neutral density) filters or HDR (high dynamic range). However, on this morning while photographing the sunrise on the York River, I did not use any special technique for capturing my images. I just adjusted my exposure compensation while using a ISO of 200 and an aperture of 22.

As always, I mount my camera on my tripod and use a L-bracket on my camera so I can easily switch from horizontal to vertical orientation. While photographing the sunrise on the York River, I spent the entire time changing the position of the height of my tripod and moving about the area looking for compositions that I liked. Often the most colorful parts of the sky during the sunrise is not towards the actual direction of the sunrise. So always pay attention to the skies all around you when photographing sunrises.

Sunrise on the York River on a summer day from the beach at Yorktown, Virginia.
The sun just rising up over the horizon on the York River. When photographing the ball of sun, it is often hard to properly expose the sun as it is very bright. Therefore, it often best to photograph other scenes that do not include the sun once it is above the horizon.

The Golden Hour After the Sunrise

Once the sun has risen above the horizon, the golden hour begins. This golden hour is the first hour after the sun has risen. It provides one of the best lighting times for photography, On this particular morning, I continued photographing the seascapes as the color in the sky that morning was just spectacular.

The colorful sunrise along the shore of Yorktown and the York River in Virginia.
This image was captured shortly after the sun peaked up over the horizon during the golden hour. In photography, the golden hours is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset, The golden hour provides a warm natural light during this time period.

The York River along downtown Yorktown, Virginia provided me a wonderful sunrise opportunity and experience. It was fun to explore this beach area along the Yorktown river front area. The Yorktown Fishing Pier, the jetty rocks and the curves of the beach were good foreground compositional elements for my sunrise images. I definitely will be back to explore more of this area again.

I always love to take advantage of a very colorful sky at sunrise to continue photographing my subjects until the fleeting colors disappear. Being out in nature observing and photographing such beauty means every thing to me. So, that is why I spend every moment I can photographing and documenting the wonderful beauty of our natural world.

Lori A Cash photographing the sunrise on a cool late summer morning from the Yorktown Beach along the York River in Yorktown, Virginia.
Lori A Cash photographing the sunrise on a cool late summer morning from the Yorktown Beach along the York River in Yorktown, Virginia.

Thank you for reading my Field Notes blog, and I hope you will share this post with others.

Let’s protect our wildlife and nature!

All the very best,


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