Long Island, lying as it does along a 100 mile northeast-to-southwest axis, offers opportunities for oceanfront photography that are not easily found elsewhere in the United States. On the winter solstice where I live in East Hampton, you can actually observe the sun both rise and set out of the ocean on the same day. This is possible because the sun has moved to its farthest point south on that date, and also because of the unique positioning of the island. Main Beach is a good place to observe this, but you can also watch it on Fire Island, Jones Beach or even Coney Island in New York City. Fortunately, dramatic lighting on our beaches isn’t limited to the winter solstice. Between November and early March the sun is far enough south so that the striking effects of early morning and late day light are easily appreciated assuming you’re willing to brave the wind and low temperatures. Snow, of course, can add much drama:
Main Beach in East Hampton is one of my favorite places to work during the cold months- especially in late afternoon. Many times I’ve found myself out there in mid-winter, lugging camera and tripod and trying to stay warm. The frigid sessions often conclude in an awesome torch of sunlight which illuminates the sand, the fences and the surf with near-psychedelic color. In the opposite direction, shadows stretch to infinity. Once the sun is down the darkness comes up fast. Getting back to the car, putting away camera and turning on the heat is now the object. Later, when driving back through town, the luminosity of the beach seems to linger in the mind- a curious contrast to the sleepy look of the village in winter.
More photographs of Main Beach (and others) can be seen at these links: