Photo #1, Flemings Bait Stand, Rockport Texas







Rockport - Fulton Trip Report
by George Hosek

I'm driving down S. Fulton Beach Road in Rockport Texas at 5:30 am, just in time to find a location to photograph what I believe is going to be a fantastic sunrise. The weather is perfect. Clear, calm and cool. Just the way I like it when I'm shooting on the coast.

I left the house ( near Houston ) 3 hours earlier, traveling south on highway 35 through the sleepy towns of Baycity,  Palacious, College Port and Port Lavaca before finally arriving in Rockport - Fulton.

Although, I glanced at a map of the area before I left, I'm still not sure exactly where I am, I pull over and use my iphone to check Google Maps. I'm looking for the best spot to get some reflection shots of the sunrise.

I quickly see where I need to be, a small peninsula called Rockport Beach Park, its flanked by Aransas Bay to the south and Little Bay to the north. Perfect candidates for the photos I've been thinking of.

Before I head to the park I decide to go straight to the bay and see what the conditions are like. Right away I notice a few low clouds on the eastern horizon and a slight south east breeze. Not bad but I was hoping for no wind and no clouds.

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Photo #2, Sunrise Marina, Rockport


I take S. Fulton Beach Road south, it parallels the bay for a couple of miles before turning into Broadway Street. Even at night the drive reveals one picturesque scene after another, I don't think I've ever seen so many piers. I know at some point during the morning I'm going to be including a pier in at least one of my photos.

I drive a little further and was thrilled when I got my first glimpse of Little Bay, the water was like glass, I could already see the clouds reflecting in the water. Just what I was hoping for. Once I reach Veterans Memorial Drive I take a left, it takes me right to Rockport Beach Park. I quickly drive to the end and back trying to get familiar with the area, I also drive along Navigation Circle and notice several bait shops and the marina.

Photo #3, Sunrise at Rockport Marina
I'm glad to see the first hint of light start to appear, I'm more than ready to start taking some photos. I already know where I want to start. The bait shop ( photo # 1 ). Since it's still mostly dark the artificial lights of the bait camp will help illuminate the scene.

I take eight thirty-second exposures from slightly different angles, the bright lights against the dark sky makes exposure a bit difficult, I underexpose several frames just to make sure I don't completely "blow out" the lights of the bait shop. Then I move down the street a couple hundred yards and start shooting the marina ( photo # 2, 3 ) I was really happy with the warm glow the artificial lights provided.

The clouds I was worried about earlier don't look like they will be a problem, in fact its looks like they will add an extra dimension to an already gorgeous sunrise, at some point I'm hoping the sun will light them up.

Photo #4, Sunrise from Little Bay parking area
Photo #5, Sunrise from Little Bay parking area
The early morning light changes quickly, so I like to move fast and cover as many locations as possible. I pack my camera and tripod and head to the parking area on the east end of Little Bay. I get there just in time, the color in the sky and the clouds reflected in the water have come together to create a magical moment ( photo # 4, 5 ).

Using my 17-40mm zoom lens I start taking one photo after another, trying to capture as much as I can. Even with the zoom it was difficult to include the entire view, so I zoomed in as far I could, then starting from the left I took a photo then another from the middle then another from the right. I knew I could stitch these together when I got home and produce a panoramic picture of the entire bay ( photo # 5 ).

I also used my 300mm lens and took a few frames of the "Rockport sign" that's so prominent on the parks south shoreline ( photo # 6 ).

Photo #6, Rockport Beach Park Sign

After I'm done shooting Little Bay I want to try a couple more locations before the sunrise loses its color. I head up Veterans Memorial Drive into the park and stop at one of the beach access areas. I hike through thick sand for about fifty yards before I reach the beach, I take a few frames ( photo # 7 ), then back to the car.

Over the years one of the things I've noticed about shooting the sunrise is, there is sometimes a pause after the early burst of color. That's where I felt I was at.  The next challenge is to find a subject I can silhouette against the rising sun. Although, with clouds on the horizon I'm not even sure if I'll be able to see the sun much less photograph it.

Photo #7, Rockport Beach Park Sunrise
The last spot I wanted to try was at the end of the park's road. I noticed a pier with a couple of people standing on it, also across the cut there was what looked to be a father and son fishing from a bulkhead. The problem with the pier shot was I couldn't find a suitable angle, so it looked like my subjects would have to be the father and son fishing.

So far I've been shooting only with my still camera but now there's enough light that I can use my Canon XHA1 HD video camera and shoot some video as well. This involves setting up two tripods and of course two cameras. It's a pain but worth it. I set the cameras up on the pier where I can get an angle on the fishermen and waited. Then waited some more.

Photo #8, Fishermen Aransas Bay at Sunrise
It looked like the sunrise was going to be a bust, then to my surprise a golden shaft of light broke through the cracks in the clouds, then another and another until the sky was filled with beams of beautiful light! I couldn't believe my luck!

I quickly positioned the video camera and started recording, unfortunately, in my excitement I didn't do a very good job of setting up the camera, I should have positioned my subjects away from the structure in the background and more in the middle of the frame. I did correct this later ( see video below ) but only after losing several minutes of great video. I also shot many frames with the still camera ( photo # 8, 9 ), again in my hast I didn't do as good a job as I should have. Overall I am very happy with the video and still images and will be heading back to Rockport - Fulton soon.

Photo #9, Fishermen Aransas Bay at Sunrise






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