There’s no denying the beauty and wonder of the Outer Banks. Even at its worst, when the sea is raging, and the wind is howling there’s a fierce loveliness that inspires and impresses. In its quieter moments, as the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean, casting a pastel glow on the dunes and nearby wildlife, it is a contemplative picture of perfection.
It’s easy to see why this barrier island is popular among professional and amateur photographers alike.
We reached out to Sean Paul Ballentine, a freelance photographer for the Coast since 2019, asking to see what he sees through his lens. Ballentine, who grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia, moved to Duck in 2012 to be closer to the ocean, the beach and living on the coast. The beautiful landscapes, wildlife and scenery of the Outer Banks inspired him to become a photographer, he says, an endeavor he has pursued as a hobby since 2016.
And while he loves to take pictures of the ocean and beach and resident creatures such as birds, crabs and deer, Ballentine is drawn especially to sunrises and sunsets. “Those are my favorite things to shoot,” he says. As full-time overnight associate at the Walmart in Kitty Hawk, he has the unique opportunity to head out after a shift to capture morning hues.
“I don’t really plan on my shots as far as location and what I’m going to do,” he says. “It’s literally just how I feel and where I feel like going at that particular moment.”
The following is a collection of photos taken by Ballentine this summer. They are a reminder that despite the ongoing uncertainty in the world today, respite is not very far away.
"Bodie Island Nights III"
This picture is a shot of the Bodie Island Lighthouse taken in May on Bodie Island. I took this shot early in the morning before daybreak. This is a full 30-second long exposure shot. The long exposure helps to capture the stars and the night sky. It was warm weather with no wind.
“Jennette's Pier Smooth Sunrise II"
This is a morning picture. It is a shot of Jennette's Pier in Nags Head taken in May just north of the pier. This is a long exposure shot. The long exposure created a smooth effect of the ocean and the little waves that day. It was beautiful that morning with a beautiful sky, warm weather and no wind.
"Kitty Hawk Paradise"
A morning picture taken in June at a public beach access in Kitty Hawk. When the sun came up into the clouds, it created a beautiful glowing effect with some rays coming down. It was beautiful warm weather with no wind.
"Sunrise and Sailboat"
A sunrise picture taken in Duck in June. The weather was warm and beautiful with little wind, and I just happen to see the sailboat come right in front of the sun coming up out of the ocean. I thought that was very cool! I have never taken a picture like that. It was such perfect timing!
A picture of my nephew JP surfing a wave in July in Duck. It was a beautiful, warm day with some good waves. The ocean was clear as well.
"Summer July Moonrise"
A picture taken one evening in July as the moon was rising out of the ocean in Duck. It was beautiful warm weather with wind. I loved the color of the moon when it was rising out of the ocean. It was a long exposure shot.
"Venus and Moon"
A picture taken in July in Duck. I went out on the beach early in the morning before daybreak. I saw the moon and Venus side by side and took a full 30-second long exposure shot. A long exposure shot helps capture the night sky. It was clear with some clouds and the weather was fair and warm.
A picture taken one morning in July of footprints near the shore as the surf was coming up in Duck. This was a long exposure shot taken on a beautiful morning on the beach. Those footprints were actually my footprints. The weather was warm and beautiful with very little wind.
"July Low Tides"
A picture taken one morning in July of shells and waves during low tide in Corolla. This shot was taken at a very low angle to capture the beauty of the foreground of shells and the background of the ocean, as well as the beautiful pink cloud in the sky. This was a long exposure shot before the sun came up. It was a beautiful, warm morning with no wind.