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Painting With Light

Stargazers of all ages love the night sky surrounding Brunswick County. Living near the ocean away from the bright city lights has its perks at night when the sky is clear, the moon is full, and there’s a slight chill in the air. Of course, taking a good photo of the stars and a full moon is a challenge to most amateur photographers. We all have taken pictures of the big full moon only to get a photo of the black sky with a white dot in the middle and a tree nearby that caught the flash.

Luckily for us, there are amazingly talented people, like St. James resident and landscape photographer Nick Noble, who can uniquely capture the beauty of our world. His award-winning photos have graced the pages of many print magazines, guides, and online platforms. Recently, he was able to get breathtaking photos of the comet Neowise flying by, as well as the Milky Way. I first saw his photos posted on local Facebook pages and immediately loved his work. He captures the night sky in all its brilliance as if you are standing on the beach looking at it.

“I like early morning and nighttime star photography,” he said.

Not only can he shoot great pictures of the night sky, but Noble also has an eye for beautiful landscapes. “I have no formal training in photography,” he said, explaining that he holds a Ph.D. in Economics. “Early in the development of digital cameras, Miami University gave me a digital camera to document a service learning project to teach economics to third graders,” he said. "At the end of the school year, I took it with me to the Outer Banks for my family vacation that year. I had a great time using it, and then started taking more pictures.”

A resident of St. James for the past 11 years, Noble was glad to move from Ohio to Brunswick County to be out of the snow and cold weather. “My family vacationed on the Outer Banks. When it was clear I had shoveled enough snow, we considered North Carolina as a place to retire. We explored the coastal area, and the Southport area just seemed perfect.”

According to Noble, planning for the photoshoot is the first step to a successful picture. “Knowing when and where the sun will rise or set, the moonrise and set times and directions. What are the tides times and coming in or going out? The location of the Milky Way Galaxy at night and is the moon out hiding the stars,” he said. “The next step is setting an alarm. People often ask me when I sleep! Often the best time for my photography is 3-5 am. Then, seeing a large scene and deciding how to isolate a piece of it that will fit into the space of a picture. Should I include more, or include less? All of this is driven by the search for the right light,” said Noble. “Every sunrise, sunset, and milky way moment is different. How shall I try to capture this one?”

Finding great inspiration from several different photographers, Noble follows the words of the famous black and white photographer, Ansel Adams. “Adams said once that 12 good pictures in a year is a good crop. I have fun each year trying to narrow my pictures down to the best 12,” he said. “My favorite photograph was taken on the Southport Salt Marsh walkway near sunrise. Everything came together — the sunrise, the clouds, the building lights, the light on the grasses, the reflections, the tides. I try something and if I like it, I spend more effort in that direction. If I don’t like it, I try to decide if it is a bad idea or if it is fixable. Rule - go to the walkway when sunrise and high tide are together!”

Noble’s photography prints and calendars are for sale in Southport at the Artisans Gallery on Howe. He will be outside the Artisans Gallery on Dec 4 from 10 am - 4 pm, selling his calendars and prints and chatting with the public. You can find him on Facebook at, Instagram @nsqr. His webpage is Email And you can find out Noble's favorite photos on his website here


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