Posts Tagged ‘sunrise’

Sunrise by the Water

Monday, 28 March, 2011

It's good to be up earlyI got up at 5:30 on Sunday morning and headed out to Collaroy for some dawn photography at the ocean rock pool there. The weather had been overcast and showery on Saturday, with more of the same forecast for Sunday, but you can never really tell what it’ll be like for a shooting session until you get there, so I persevered, despite it looking gloomy and rainy when I got up. It rained the entire way there in the car, and I was fearing we’d have to just sit in the car for an hour before heading off for a breakfast somewhere.

When we got there, it was still dark and the rain had cleared to a very light drizzle, so I braved it with the help of an umbrella to keep the camera dry. There was a swimmer already in the pool, getting some laps in. I got about half a dozen shots in before the rain started getting heavier, forcing me to retreat back to the car. We sat there for about half an hour, watching it tumble down, as the sky slowly lightened from black to dark grey. As we waited, several cars and vans pulled up next to us, with guys getting out to survey the surfing conditions. Some took one look and headed away again. One guy stood staring at the ocean for about 20 minutes, brooding under a golf umbrella, trying to come to a decision. One or two grabbed their boards and headed out into the surf.

Swirl, Water and SKyDupain to the MaxEventually the rain slowed again. I ventured out and it quickly slackened off enough to take more photos, without needing an umbrella. The sunlight was giving some texture to the looming clouds by then, and I think I got some decent shots. The rain held off and the clouds began to break up slightly, allowing glimpses of sky. A dozen or so surfers plied the waves beyond the pool, and a procession of swimmers – almost all of them elderly men – arrived at the pool for their daily constitutional.

The concrete surrounds were slick with puddles of rain, and the surf was up a bit, washing over the seaward side of the pool, and getting my feet wet with seawater as I walked around with my gear. It wasn’t the best sunrise shooting session, but it was well worth it. At 7:30 or so we packed up and headed to a nearby cafe for some breakfast and to continue our early start to the day.

Up at Dawn

Tuesday, 30 March, 2010

The Swimmer
On Sunday I got up at 5:20. The aim was to be out at North Narrabeen while it was still dark, so I could do some sunrise photography. This is the best time of year to do this, because the sun is rising later as winter approaches, but daylight saving hasn’t ended yet, so the sun is actually appearing later (by the clock) than in the middle of winter. And being the tail end of summer, it isn’t nearly as cold in the morning either.

What you want for a good sunrise is a bit of cloud in the sky, but a clear horizon, without that band of grey wall you sometimes get hovering right on the horizon. If there’s no cloud, the sky just goes bland, but some clouds catch the red glow of the dawn sun and provide some contrast in the sky. The problem is, because you have to get up and head out when it’s still dark, you have no idea what the sky is going to be like when the sun finally appears. So it’s always a gamble. So far I’ve been very lucky with my dawn photo sessions – I haven’t really had a bad one yet.

The other thing is that I live on an east coast, which means that yes, I have to get up at dawn for the sunrise. The sun sets beyond the suburbs and the mountains in the distance, which isn’t nearly as good as the sun setting into the ocean. If you’re on a west coast, you get good sunsets; if you’re on the east, you need to go for the sunrises.

And finally, taking photos on the coast, you need to consider the tide. Yes, something I do cares about the phase of the moon. (And I’m not a fisher or a surfer. Actually, I used to care about the phase of the moon when I did astronomy too.) It happened to be high tide at dawn on Sunday, which meant much of the rock platform I was taking photos of was submerged. There were about half a dozen other photographers there – photography is a dawn fraternity – and all of them were simply wading through the sea water to access positions on the edge of the rocks, where waves could wash over them and provide luscious photos. I still need to get some shoes I’m willing to inflict sea water on, so I stayed on the relatively dry area around the rock pool.

Then there’s the choice of lens. I like to experiment and try unconventional things. One of the tricks is a fisheye lens. It distorts the image wildly, and is often used in ways which accentuate the effect, by including lots of obvious lines that get bent. But if you put the horizon bang in the middle of the frame, it stays straight. And if there are few straight lines elsewhere, the image can look reasonably natural. There is some obvious distortion in this shot, but it’s confined to the corners and doesn’t scream at you.

And the other cool thing about being here at dawn is that swimmers get up at the same time and provide interesting foreground subjects, to set against the magic that’s happening in the sky.

It’s good to get up early.