The Pier and the Sea…

If you head straight out to the beach from the Trump hotel where we were staying you come to this stone and concrete pier going straight out into the water. I’m not sure it actually does very much other than act as a bit of a seawall but it does provide a good vantage point to shoot up and down the beach and of course looking straight out to sea

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

The Pier is just a two minute walk from the hotel so I figured I’d give it a shot at sunrise one morning

About halfway out I could use the pier to shoot from and include the end of the rocky break and the white crusted rocks in my foreground and look down the beach to the north west towards the Hilton Resort. It’s 5:40AM (25 minutes before sunrise) and we’ve got a two minute long exposure with a 3 stop hard grad and a CPL for company

Purple Dawn

Purple Dawn

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 123 sec at f/11, ISO 400

Sunrise colour came and went quite quickly

Diamond Dawn

Diamond Dawn

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 18 mm, 21.00 sec at f/11, ISO 50

but just after we started getting a touch of pastel colour in the sky – time for some shots looking straight down the pier and out to sea before the morning hordes of people really started coming out

All Out to Sea

All Out to Sea

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 8 sec at f/11, ISO 50

and a quick selfie whilst I had the pier to myself (there was a fisherman out at the end earlier)

Alone with the Sea

Alone with the Sea

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 8 sec at f/16, ISO 50

and then other tourists started arriving to enjoy the start of a new day and try their own photos at the end of the pier – this opportune cloud formation lit by the low rising sun just couldn’t be wasted

Morning Pointers

Morning Pointers

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 8 sec at f/16, ISO 50

Kurnell – Pastels not Oils…

Kurnell is an area dominated by industrial use, including a Desalination Plant and an Oil Refinery

No oils here this morning but we did however get some amazingly sweet pastel tones through the sky which culminated right before sunrise with an absolutely epic pastel pink blush across the sky looking away from sunrise

My good friend Gerry and I were taking in a cool winters morning sunrise session at Kurnell on the southern edge of Sydney

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

6:47AM and it’s about a dozen minutes till sunrise

Pockmarked

Pockmarked

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 5.00 sec at f/16, ISO 100

Looking behind me I could see Gerry over at the cliff edge to the right shooting back along the coast and towards the Lighthouse up on the small hill slightly inland from us which we’d walked past on our early morning walk in the dark to here

With about ten minutes till sunrise the cloudless sky (looking away from sunrise) was putting on a fantastic show of pastels – at first blues and purples and as the sun slowly rose towards the horizon turning mauves and luscious pinks

I made my way over towards Gerry in the hopes of making use of some of this fantastic colour

I can’t really claim any credit for this shot (which for me was the shot of the morning) – since Gerry was taking something of this nature as I’d arrived – I was pressed for time since the colours were changing from moment to moment – in the four minutes it took to get over there and start setting up the colours had already changed dramatically

So I setup next to him and looked to make use of this fabulous stripe of brightly coloured lichen down in the foreground on the cliff with the awesome coastline curving around and away into the distance. We had the deep greeny blue waters below churning away at the coast and it all sitting underneath this most luscious pastel array of pinks and mauves above

We started chatting about this being the time we could have used a Lee Little Stopper (neither of us have one as yet – it’s a 6 stop ND filter) since we wanted a longer exposure to add more interest to the waters below but a BigStopper would be way too strong. I suggested we just stack a 3 stop ND to our existing filters to push it out a little more (I could also drop to ISO 50 on my D600 to add another stop). This let me go from 5 seconds to a much more interesting 40 seconds

Teaching Point: A tip for others using the plate based slot in filters (e.g. 6×4″ or 150x100mm) – if you have hard grad filters you don’t necessarily need to also purchase the expensive solid ND filters – I just pull the grad filter right down so the ND portion covers the whole frame. Even on a full frame camera at 16mm I find the slightly less than half of the 150×100 grad which is a solid ND coating is enough to cover the whole frame

Anyway this long exposure frame taken with the 16-35 zoomed out wide at 16mm with the Hitech 3 stop Reverse grad stacked with the Lee 3 stop ND (as above it’s actually the 3 stop hard grad pulled right down) was taken right on sunrise literally just moments before the sun peaked over the horizon and so the light was wonderfully soft

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 40.00 sec at f/16, ISO 50

and then the sun broke over the horizon and the pastels in the sky vanished to be replaced by a cold steely blue sky and golden tones across the land and sea

I took a quick pano set (five (5) vertical frames at 16mm) just a few minutes after sunrise as the sun warmed the land. The strong golden rays from the sun sitting on the horizon bathed the high stone cliffs in an intense pinky orange glow and with the light peeking just barely across the tops of the cliff, here just touching the tips of the grasses and the higher rocks and land in the distance

Gerry was coming back from way over to the right at this time and was enquiring about us heading off to explore down the coast – when I said I was just finishing a pano sequence. He mentioned he’d taken one earlier from pretty much this spot (before I’d come over to this edge to join him in enjoying the pastel skies) and that we’d have similar shots. I wasn’t aware he’d done a pano nor what his composition was, but it turns out our compositions were very similar (insert something about great minds thinking alike…. :)) but our end results were vastly different: (Life on the Edge). His was taken before sunrise perhaps 10 to 15 minutes earlier with a slightly longer focal length whilst mine was taken just minutes after sunrise. Personally I like his version better, but what is more interesting is what a difference a few minutes time and the change in light makes…

Beyond the Edge

Beyond the Edge

+ @ sec at

Heading onto the rocks in front of us as the low raking light started adding dimension by creating interesting shapes and shadows across the waves and layers of rock…

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 24 mm, 1/13 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Last shot here before we started heading back south along the coast towards the car park

Driving Layers

Driving Layers

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 1/10 sec at f/11, ISO 100

When we were nearly back to where we’d started at Kurnell – Gerry was quite keen to do a BigStopper long exposure to end the morning. We were looking for that lone rock out in the ocean getting washed in waves. Alas we never found it but this was one Gerry was keen to try. Personally I thought it was a lost cause but as we were here and I was going to be waiting for 10+ minutes anyway… go the gear out and fired off two frames – he was much lower down on the rock shelf below me – I shot using a more tele focal length from up the top. At the time I figured – ok that was terrible 🙂

However back in Lightroom I was warming to the images – I think because of the way the streaky white lines appear from the moving waves during the 250 second exposure – I think thats what elevates it from the garbage can for me…

Gerry’s Wash

Gerry's Wash

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 48 mm, 248.00 sec at f/16, ISO 50

Pali Lookout…

Continuing on our eastern island tour…

Crossing back across the middle of the island we headed on the Pali Highway and up to the famous Pali Lookout. The view was spectacular but the wind was crazy – we had been warned beforehand what it would be like but nothing prepares you for the sheer ferocity of the winds and gusts streaming across the island and up this ridge to the lookout

The girls tho had fun with the wind whipping up a storm with their hair and clothes 🙂

Pali Flight

Pali Flight

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 56 mm, 1/1250 sec at f/4, ISO 320

Pali Wings

Pali Wings

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm, 1/1250 sec at f/4, ISO 320

I wanted to do a stitched panorama to really show the expanse of the massive view from up here. This was much much easier said than done. Using the tripod was totally out – the wind and especially the gusts were so strong there would be no hope of it being stable (or my camera even being there) by the time I’d finished taking the shots. I could barely stand up myself near the edge – having to lean into the wind to survive

I decided to try taking the shots handheld and in an attempt to get reasonably sharp frames I shot at a high shutter speed whilst trying to brace myself and shoot between massive gusts. So even though it was a very bright day I bumped the ISO to 400 and in this sequence my shutter speeds varied from a low of 1/200th (for the leftmost darker frame) to 1/800th for the majority of the other frames. This panorama stitched from eight (8) vertical frames taken with the 24-70 at 24mm

Pali Vista

Pali Vista

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

Oahu Eastern Island Tour…

We’d decided to hire a car for a couple of days and head out to explore some of the island of Oahu outside of Waikiki and Honolulu

I purchased the GyPSy Guide – Oahu Full Island GPS Driving Tour on the Apple App store to assist us in our travels and I have to say it was a very good guide – highly recommended

For this first day we decided to take the shorter Beaches and Volcanoes Tour that focuses on the south-eastern corner of Oahu with its iconic sites like Hanauma Bay, Diamond Head, Pali Lookout and some of Hawaii’s best swimming beaches

Note: These images (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

But before heading out to pick up the rental car here’s a pre dawn panorama – seven (7) frames at 19mm on the trusty 16-35 about twenty minutes before sunrise

Pre Dawn Delight

Pre Dawn Delight

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 30 sec at f/11, ISO 100

and a BigStopper long exposure with the clouds streaking over the mountains behind the city about 15 minutes after sunrise

The Hand

The Hand

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 355.00 sec at f/11, ISO 100

First up we drove around and into the crater at Diamond Head. This shot on the other (northern) side of the crater

Diamond Head

Diamond Head

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 29 mm, 1/200 sec at f/7.1, ISO 100

We headed up along the coast eventually arriving at the Makapu’u Gap lookout which looks over Makapu’u Beach with a pair of islands on the right (Rabbit Island being the larger of the two). This one a handheld stitched panorama from seven (7) vertical frames shows the fantastic volcanic hills on the left looking out over Makapu’u Beach onto the crystal clear turquoise and blue waters of the ocean surrounding Käohikaipu & Mänana (Rabbit) Islands – a little slice of paradise…

Makapu’u

Makapu'u

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 29 mm, 1/250 sec at f/8, ISO 200

I also returned here (to that point of land on the other side of Makapu’u Beach) in the darkness to shoot sunrise with “dA Crazies” (a group of keen sunrise chasing photographers on Oahu) a couple days later

Dreamin’ Bunnies

Dreamin' Bunnies

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/800 sec at f/4, ISO 200

Further along the coast we stopped at Kailua and Lanikai Beaches – the later was spectacular with crystal clear turquoise waters and squeaky sand

Lanikai Twins

Lanikai Twins

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 48 mm, 1/800 sec at f/4, ISO 100

I’ll continue our eastern island tour tomorrow…

Kurnell – Morning Rays…

Headed down to the southern side of Sydney to shoot sunrise at Kurnell with Gerry

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

Kurnell is on the southern headland of Botany Bay with the eastern side of the peninsula being part of Botany Bay National Park. Kurnell is considered to be the birthplace of modern Australia, as it is the place where Captain James Cook landed on 29 April 1770. The area is dominated by industrial use, including an Oil Refinery and a Desalination Plant

Gerry and I however headed out to the eastern side of Kurnell above the cliffs with the Focus (FOCUS – Australia – Seascape & Landscape Photography) crew – we arrived quite early at 5:25AM (about 95 minutes before sunrise). We left the rest of the Focus group (who were planning to shoot at nearby Potter Point) and headed north along the cliffs past the Lighthouse to shoot at a nice open spot on the cliffs

We were looking for a spot with some nice still water pools near the edge of the cliffs so we could shoot out to sea before sunrise. As always we were hoping for some nice clouds but once again were disappointed with just some thick cloud right on the horizon. The clouds did bode well for some pre dawn pastels and that did not disappoint

40 minutes to sunrise and we’d made it to a location we’d seen on Google Maps just in time for the horizon to start blazing pretty red – it was out with the 3 stop reverse grad and the polariser and time to set in for some early twilight long exposures

Red vs Blue

Red vs Blue

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 102.00 sec at f/8, ISO 100

Half an hour till sunrise

Stillness

Stillness

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 73 sec at f/11, ISO 160

With twenty five minutes till sunrise and Gerry asking me where the Seals were?!!…

We were hearing these relatively loud sort of snorting/sneezing noises and wondering what they were – Gerry went for a look over the edge and… Whales far down below – yeah we should have brought a long lens – the 24-70 just wasn’t going to cut it

Unfortunately we weren’t blessed with some colourful clouds spread over the sky this morning but with a band of clouds right on the horizon we were however getting some sweet but subtle morning rays in the sky

A Fan of Sunrise

A Fan of Sunrise

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 46 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Moving to another pool further back which had some nice small rocks in the water to add some extra interest to the foreground. I liked this little diagonal line of stones and after a few straight shots I figured it would also make for some decent silhouetted selfie reflections – the first a few minutes more than 15 minutes to sunrise and the second a touch under 15 minutes to go

Waiting for the Light

Waiting for the Light

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 13 sec at f/16, ISO 100

Dawn Watching

Dawn Watching

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 4 sec at f/16, ISO 100