Tips for Taking Spring Photos on the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks (OBX) in spring is a photographer’s paradise, offering a blend of stunning landscapes, vibrant flora, and dynamic weather conditions. Here are essential tips for capturing the beauty of the OBX during this magical season:

Understand the Light

  • Golden Hours: Take advantage of the golden hours just after sunrise and before sunset. The soft, warm light during these times can add a magical glow to your photos, enhancing the spring colors.
  • Overcast Days: Don’t shy away from cloudy days. Overcast conditions can lead to evenly diffused light, reducing harsh shadows and highlighting the vibrant colors of spring blooms.

Capture the Blooms

  • Elizabethan Gardens: Visit the Elizabethan Gardens when the Azaleas and Carolina Yellow Jessamines are in full bloom. The contrast of these flowers against the lush greenery provides a perfect subject for vibrant landscape shots or detailed macro photography​​.
  • Wildflowers: Keep an eye out for wildflowers along the dunes and roadways. A low angle can capture the flowers with the sky as a backdrop, emphasizing the colors and patterns.

Embrace the Weather

  • Dynamic Skies: Spring storms can roll in quickly on the OBX, creating dramatic skies. Capture the contrast between dark storm clouds and the bright, sunlit shores for a captivating shot.
  • Morning Mist: Early mornings can bring mist or light fog, especially near the water. This adds a mysterious or ethereal quality to landscapes and landmarks, such as lighthouses or piers.

Focus on Wildlife

  • Bird Migration: Spring is a great time for bird photography on the OBX. Many species migrate through the area. Use a long lens and a fast shutter speed to capture them in flight or as they forage on the beaches.
  • Horses of Corolla: The wild horses are a must-photograph subject. Maintain a respectful distance and use a zoom lens to capture these majestic animals against the backdrop of the Currituck Sound or dunes.

Composition and Perspective

  • Rule of Thirds: Apply the rule of thirds for a balanced composition. Place your subject off-center for a more natural and interesting photo.
  • Different Perspectives: Don’t be afraid to experiment with perspectives. Shoot from high above, such as from a dune, or get down low to the ground to capture the world from a different viewpoint.

Equipment Tips

  • Tripod for Stability: A tripod is invaluable, especially during low light conditions or for long exposures capturing the movement of the sea or clouds.
  • Lens Choice: A wide-angle lens is ideal for capturing expansive landscapes, while a telephoto lens is great for wildlife or details of distant subjects like lighthouses.

Respect the Environment

While capturing the beauty of the OBX, it’s crucial to respect the natural environment. Stay on marked paths to protect the dunes and vegetation, and always follow local guidelines for wildlife photography.


  • Editing Software: Use photo editing software to enhance your images subtly. Adjusting the exposure, contrast, and saturation can help your photos reflect the true beauty of the scene.
  • Filters: Consider using filters sparingly to maintain the natural look of your spring photos. A polarizing filter can reduce glare and enhance the blue of the sky or the water.

Spring in the Outer Banks offers a unique opportunity to capture the awakening of nature. With these tips, you’re ready to explore and photograph the diverse landscapes and vibrant life that make the OBX a truly special place during this season.