We returned from our sunset shoot at First Encounter Beach to an envelope left on our bed that was titled, “Jedi Photographers.” As you might remember, we are now Jedi photographers – so says Yoda and my mom. We were given a challenging first mission even though we are new to this realm. We opened the letter to find a single sentence on an otherwise blank piece of paper:

“Rise in the wee hours of the morn, you will, and capture sunrise at Province Lands Dunes”

It’s one thing to understand our mission, but executing on it is an entirely different matter. Wanting to impress, we decided to develop a mission plan by answering a few simple questions. 

  1. Where are the Province Lands Dunes? We caught a break on this one, only 20 minute drive from home base to the start of the trail.
  2. How easy is it to get to the Dunes from the trailhead? No break on this item. After reading from multiple sources, the general consensus is the hike is the most aggressive on the Cape, lasting upwards of an hour going up and down sandy dunes that reach 60 feet high. Sigh.
  3. When do we need to wake up for our mission? We looked up sunrise which was 5:17. Ugh. Using complex mathematics and with geometric precision we computed our wakeup time by stepping backwards from sunrise: 10 minutes test and setup camera (5:07), 20 minutes of scouting the best photo position (4:47), one hour hike (3:47), make and drink coffee and dress takes about 30 minutes (3:17). We needed to set the alarm for 3:17am! Our mission just took a drastic turn for the worse, adding this dangerous element, bringing us to unchartered territory. 

With our planning complete, we set out to make the Jedi Master proud. I readied the coffee (every second saved could be crucial) while Kas set the alarm. [Editor’s note: Jeff was prepping the Keurig – maybe saving us a total of 7 seconds.]. It was 10:45pm when we turned out the lights. Normally, I fall asleep quickly. But not tonight. I must have been anxious, Yoda on my mind.

I must have slept some because I was sleeping soundly at 3:17 when I heard, “honey, it’s time to make the coffee.” “Make the damn coffee yourself, woman!” Luckily, I woke up enough to not say that. I was smart and made the coffee. After I dutifully delivered a cup, Kas says, “I’m pretty tired. Maybe sleeping in might not be a bad idea.” Yes! I could sleep-in and it wouldn’t have been my idea. “Can you check the cloud cover?” I stumbled to the door, opened it, and looked up. “Plenty of cloud cover. Tough to shoot sunrise if you can’t see the sun.”

We woke up at 8:00, refreshed. Kas opened the blinds and let the sun shine it. “Jeff, it looks to be a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.” ????

We failed miserably in our first mission as Jedi Photographers. Luckily, I’m still a guru – they can’t take that or my trophy away from me! Enjoy some successes from our sunset shoot the night before:

The mud flats that remain when the tide recedes are really nice to shoot.

Just after the sun set,the blue hour began. The purples in the sky reflected on the water and mud gave a very different feeling.

Remember, it’s all about the light – saber.