Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Sunrises, Moon eclipse and a Deer…sort of

This is my favourite time of year for taking land and seascapes.  It’s getting darker later in the mornings so you can catch the ‘golden hour’ without having to get up at some ungodly hour and yet it’s still mild enough that when you do, your fingers aren't going numb when setting the camera’s controls and you can appreciate the moment in comfort.

The one thing I can’t completely plan for is the weather (even if the forecasting was remotely correct).  I wanted to get a typical red sky sunrise, with my first outing forecasting ‘light’ cloud which could give me a decent chance of ideal conditions.  As I approached the coast and the first signs of light appeared in the sky, I could see that it was in fact thick clouds with the exception of a small clear opening.  This was heading westward to where the sun would rise so I was hoping the timing would be just right and the rising sun would shine through this gap, lighting up the rest of the clouds.

Unfortunately, as I set up my camera it was clear it wasn’t going to arrive in time and it looked like the morning would be a dull event.  Fortunately the distant horizon must have been clear because as the sun started to rise the sky lit up a glowing red, followed by orange, the sun peaked over the horizon and, for barely a few minutes, it was gone, hidden under the blanket of clouds.


06:54 – for a few minutes there were various shades of red as if a great fire was in the distance


06:58 – followed by the horizon lit up by a glowing orange


07:01 – the sun appeared


07:04 – and then it was gone

As I walked up the beach I noticed that the now larger gap in the clouds, now looked like it might offer a picturesque image yet as rays of light started to shine through.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really have anywhere along this part of the beach that had an interesting foreground so couldn’t really get the kind of image I had hoped for.


The following week on every week day, there was clear skies but fog which gave some amazing light – but I was working so couldn’t take any photographs.  The weekend was forecast as cloudy but light cloud and the continued fog, so I ventured out in hopefulness again, in search of a spectacular mornings light.

But it wasn’t to be.  It was heavy cloud and not a sign of the promised fog.  No sun, no red or orange light in the sky, so I took what images I could under the circumstances but nothing of any real interest.  Monday, back to work and the sunrise was again, a spectacular sight!


In between the two weekends was an event many would have slept through.  The earth eclipsing the moon, giving it an eerie orange glow.  I hadn’t really planned anything for this so ended up taking these images from the back of my house, starting just after 2:00am for an hour.  I know when you take pictures of the moon you expose for its brightness which in this case was around 1/500th of a second.

As I said, I hadn’t planned on photographing this so didn’t know what to expect or researched any techniques.  As the moon slowly disappeared under the eclipse, is seemed from the naked eye that the moon was gone but through the lens I could still see the moons outline and shape which slowly turned a faint orange colour, slowly becoming brighter and with a slight white crescent.  Taking a picture of this proved to be difficult as now the moon needed a longer exposure, no longer being its typical bright white.  It’s very deceptive how quick the moon arks across the sky so even an exposure of a few seconds resulted in a slightly blurred image as the moon had moved during that time.  The other thing I hadn’t anticipated was the houses opposite and the moon not only moving high across the sky but dipping down.  I managed one photograph of it before the houses started to obstruct my view, so I couldn’t get a few practice shots off to get the best results.

It was very disappointing that I couldn’t see the event all the way through and see the moon return again to it’s full, brightness, but it was still an amazing thing to see, watching the moon be eclipsed and then turn orange.  It’s an event that’s not supposed to happen again until another 18 years I believe.


Prior to all the above events, a trip to the woods produced little luck.  Plenty of sightings but the above image being the only thing caught on camera and not really a ‘keeper’.

Whist the first morning rays hit the woodland floor, a small patch lit up along a path.  I set my lens on this spot, sat there looking through the viewfinder and thought to myself wouldn’t it be great if a Rod Deer just walked into this spot right now.  No sooner had I finished thinking that, then a Roe Deer ran right across that exact spot!  Even if I had been quick enough to take a photo, it was moving so fast it would have been blurred.  Why it ran across there instead of walking, I don’t know. It couldn’t have known of my presents as I would have been hidden from it and there was no wind for it to pick up my scent. 

It does seem typical of my luck in recent months when it comes to my photography – just not getting the breaks at the moment.

You can plan, be at the right place when you believe something might happen, research and gain knowledge about your subject, but at the end of the day luck can play a big part.  That special moment, the lighting just right, something you didn’t expect.  Having some good fortune helps.