Rodney Campbell's Blog

Kurnell – Pastels not Oils…

by on Jun.28, 2014, under Life, Photography

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



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

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