Saturday, 12 December 2009

Five Hours…

5:00am

Already wide awake when the alarm went off at 5:00am, it was therefore easier to get out of bed than it might of otherwise been on a cold, dark December Saturday morning.  First things first – look outside to see what the weather’s like.  The forecast was ok but then it was forecast to be ok last Saturday but it was raining when I got up then at five in the morning.  It’s not raining – at least not at the moment!  The current forecast is still promising if cold, minus 3, so by 6:15am I’m off to my planned morning trip to the coast, dressed in enough layers of warm clothing to keep me cosy through a Siberian winter.

7:20am and I’m at Whitley Bay, stopping off at a newsagent to buy a Whisper bar – breakfast.  By the time I get to my final destination, at St. Marys Lighthouse, it’s nearly eight and getting light.  At this time of year, this is the best location along this part of the coast of Tyneside, to photography the sunrise over water because the sun rises further to the south east.  I checked the tide timetable the day before to make sure the tide wasn’t either too far out or in at around sunrise, as I wanted to have a foreground of rocks and water in my shots.  If the tide was too far in, there wouldn’t be any rocks, if it was too far out I would have to clamber over a lot of slippery rocks in dark light to get near the water’s edge.  It was almost ideal except that the tide was coming in which means I have to watch I don’t get caught unawares.

8:00am and I’m set up at a nice spot, camera on tripod and a neutral graduated filter on the lens to help balance out the exposure so the background is balanced to a similar brightness to the sky.

I’ve always loved sunrises, seeing the sun come up and night turn into a new day, there’s something very magical about them.  From a photographers point, you have to rely on the weather and the sky in particular as this can make the shot.  Today, the sky was completely overcast except, amazingly, for the horizon where the sun was coming up, due around 8:35am.

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8:21am

I started taking pictures before this however, as the colours and sky constantly changed during the first half hour before the sunrise, starting with a soft, blue shades of colour.

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8:43am

By sunrise, I have had to move back a couple of times as the tide started to come in.  As the sun came over the horizon, it started to become windy and rain slightly, but now the blue shades gave way to a smattering of oranges and yellows and the clouds helped make the sunrise a picturesque science.  It’s at this point, the light is constantly changing and I was so caught up in what I was doing that I forgot about the tide which had started to creep around behind me, so I had to move further back again.

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9:28am

By now it had started to cloud over again, which was actually a good thing, otherwise the light would have been too strong.  The sun was just about poking through the clouds, giving a soft grey light, still dull enough to let me get long enough exposures to give the water that feeling of movement.  By 9:35am, that was it.  My hands were frozen, the light was to harsh and the tide, quickly coming in, but I felt I had got some good images.  Still early, so I thought I would see what else there was to photograph.

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Oystercatchers

 

9:55am

With the tide coming in, that tends to be a good time to catch wading birds so went to a spot which I know can be a good location so long as there is nobody walking their dogs.  My good fortune seemed to be holding out as there were a number of Oystercatchers and Sanderlings and by sitting on the beach, I just let them come to me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my right camera or lens to photograph wildlife so had to make do with what I had, otherwise would have go some good shots.  After some twenty minutes or so, a fellow photographer came up to me and told me about a seal near by.  He pointed out roughly were it was and so off I trotted in the hope of photographing my first seal.

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Grey Seal

 

10:25am

Having reached the point on the St. Marys causeway where he said the seal was, I started looking for it but couldn’t find it.  He came along and pointed it out to me – still I couldn’t see it – until it moved.  It had looked like one of the rocks.  No wonder people were just walking past it without knowing it was there.  It seemed quite young, indifferently lying there, dozing and occasionally looking around.  I took a few shots on the one time it looked up and decided not to disturb its sleep and left.

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10:38am

As I walked back, the fog was rolling in off the mainland and I took a shot of a flock of Lapwings with the background of Whitley Bay and Cullercoats in the hazy distance.

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11:12am

Having put my camera away I came across one final image of this fog bank obliterating the coastline, with the sun just managing to come through, so out it came again one last time.  By the time I had finished with these last few pictures, five hours had passed since arriving in the early morning darkness and I had filled 2, 2GB of camera flash cards with a assortment of images both wildlife and seascape.  Not a bad days shooting.

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