Rodney Campbell's Blog

Sunrise Glory at Whale Beach…

by on Jul.03, 2010, under Life, Photography

I joined a number of other keen photographers from a couple of Australian digital SLR photography forums for a VERY early morning sunrise photoshoot at Whale Beach on the Palm Beach peninsula on the far northern beaches of Sydney.

It was a 5:30AM meetup at the southern end of the beach (which meant getting up at 3:45AM and leaving home around 4:30AM).

There were about ten of us who braved the bitter cold and darkness to scramble around the rocky coastline for about twenty minutes till we reached the place dubbed Devils Cauldron at the southern end of Dolphin Bay.

As a mere amateur amongst a number of seasoned landscape and seascape shooters I think I was a little out of my league; however it was a good experience to see how others approach their craft. I think pretty much everyone else there had much more serious kit than I, including the all important Graduated Neutral Density (Grad ND) Filters. These are very important items to have when photographing the sky and ground when there’s a vast difference in exposure – which is significantly so when photographing landscape/seascape during sunrise. I of course didn’t have one so I had to make do – so my methods below were to either post adjust a shot in Lightroom via exposure, recovery, fill and the simulated graduated filter or to bracket a number of exposures (generally at 0, -2 and +2 EV) so that I had shots that at least half attempted to expose either the sky or ground somewhere near correctly and then either merge the multiple photos using High Dynamic Range (HDR) techniques or by layering of the different shots and blending them (e.g. by using the sky from one shot and the ground/sea from another).

This first shot was taken pre dawn during morning twilight (it was basically still very dark to the naked eye – 6:30AM). It was taken with my Sigma 8-16mm Ultra Wide Angle lens at 8mm to include both the moon (top left) and the hint of sunrise on the middle right and involved the blending of three shots. This is probably one of my two favourite shots:

30 sec at f/11, ISO 200, 8mm

The next shot is an HDR taken pointing up Devils River (sunrise is happening off to the left which bathes the rocky cliff face to the right in early golden orange light – it’s 6:42AM) – again with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 16mm this time using three shots at 3, 0.5 and 10 seconds:

3 sec at f/16, ISO 200, 16mm

This is Devils Cauldron itself (6:52AM) and is probably my other favourite shot (the sun is still not over the horizon and is just to the left of the frame), another HDR with the same lens at 1/4, 1/20 and 1 second:

1/4 sec at f/16, ISO 200, 16mm

This is on the walk back to the beach – I stopped to try a very wide HDR looking pretty much straight at the risen sun (behind the clouds) – it’s 7:41AM – again with the Sigma 8-16mm at 8mm at 1/40, 1/160 and 1/10 of a second:

1/40 sec at f/11, ISO 200, 8mm

The following is a 360 degree panorama I shot at the same point using 8 vertical shots taken at 45 degree angles (50% overlapped) on a tripod. If you’d like to view the panoramaas if you were there” then click on the link or the image below to view it as a fully interactive 360° virtual reality view that you can pan around and up and down as well as zoom in and out of as if you were standing at the centre of the scene.

1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 8mm

Lastly a simple shot of Whale Beach after breakfast just as we are about to leave – that headland you can see in the distance is where we walked around the coastline to to take the pre dawn shots:

1/250 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 22mm

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