Rodney Campbell's Blog

Plan B at Kurnell…

by on Mar.03, 2015, under Life, Photography

You can probably guess what sort of sunrise session it’s been when at the end of it you’re having discussions around whether we should just format our memory cards right now.

The morning was essentially one disappointment after another. We were forced to enact Plan B and after visiting three (well four really) separate locations to try and get some shots and having taken just 39 frames the whole morning it wasn’t looking good. Especially when you consider that amongst the 39 frames there was a set of shots for a stitched panorama and nearly half of the total shots were all from a single composition where I’d taken 18 frames trying to time the wash of the water over the rocks in my foreground. Even the pitiful little waves weren’t coming to the party (I had to wait for the swell of water from a passing tanker ship to get enough wave action). We were effectively in a protected bay after all.

Surprisingly in the end however I think I’ve managed to rescue a few passable shots.

18 Reasons

18 Reasons

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 6 sec at f/13, ISO 100

Gerry and I had hastily made some plans late the evening before to head out to Kurnell in the southern shire of Sydney. Gerry suggested trying for some lone mangrove trees at Towra Point – with two potential options being available. The southern end where it would be quite a walk in and we’d likely get very wet, and the northern end of the bay where we could easily park right near the mangroves.

The problem was that the northern end didn’t look all that promising on maps but it was convenient and had an option nearby of doing some after sunrise long exposures with these interesting looking rock walls going out into the bay – that is assuming some decent cloud appeared. The weather forecast for the next day wasn’t looking promising for any decent cloud in the morning so I certainly wasn’t holding my breath. In the end we opted for the more convenient option.

So I figured we might as well have a Plan B as well – I was considering the drive to the eastern side of Kurnell out to Cape Solander, but the gates weren’t supposed to open till after 6AM. So I suggested the north eastern tip of Kurnell as our Plan B and we could park nearby and walk in if necessary.

After a 4:30AM rise I made my way to meet Gerry at Kurnell. I was a bit early for our meetup and when I noticed the gates out to Cape Solander were open I headed out for a quick recce.

Met Gerry at the designated meeting place at 5:40AM (an hour before sunrise). Of course there was absolutely no cloud so any dreams of interesting clouds with blazing colour was right out. We walked in to where the mangroves were and tried to find any isolated trees we could use for a decent composition looking out to the water but it was just a dense forest. Thankfully Gerry took the hit and did the “swimming” :).

Eventually we gave up and opted for Plan B – we drove across to the closest parking spot to the northern tip of Kurnell and quickly made our way to the rocks.

We arrived at 6:25AM just in time for the skies to start showing some smooth colour tones – absolutely no clouds so pastels were about all we could hope for.

To be honest the rocks weren’t looking very inspiring and we had no real midground or sky to create an interesting composition so we just winged it.

About all I could do here was try and fill my foreground with some interesting pockmarked rocks and these small deep pools of water in the rocks and focus on them. I’d put the cityscape of the Port Botany industrial area on the other side of the bay as my mid to background and let the sky fill with the sweet pastels which were forming.

Plan B

Plan B

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 15 sec at f/22, ISO 100

Then we watched the sun rise up over the horizon – Gerry tried some shots with the long lens… he didn’t sound hopeful.

After the sun had popped up it was streaming low golden light across the water. I found this composition where I had this interesting “H” shaped channel in the rocky shore leading out into the water whilst the golden sunlight could glisten across the top of the rocks.

This is the shot where I’d taken 18 frames trying to get some sort of water movement in the right places in this H channel. In the end I ended up manually blending components from three shots opened as layers in Photoshop. Other than that pretty minimal editing was done and so ends Plan B… we were more than ready to get outa here and find some breakfast 🙂



NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 1 sec at f/11, ISO 100

After breakfast in Kurnell we even tried a hastily selected Plan C – checking out another spot nearby for some lone tree mangrove action. We took exactly zero shots – we could however see some excellent specimens… only they were on the other side of the bay and required a boat to get to – it was just one of those days :(.

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