Thursday, March 03, 2005

Photo of the Week - 28 Feb 2005

I was going to get this post out on Monday, but had plenty of writing to do for my Code Guru column and MSDN Magazine ANZ, as well as the regular consulting work.

Continuing on from last week's lighthouse theme, this shot was taken at 6.28am on the 5th Feb this year at Wollongong Harbour. I had shot the Interstate Challenge section of the Australian Surf Rower League (ASRL) Open 2005 event the night before, and scoped out the Harbour as a good sunrise location. When I'm shooting a surf carnival, I like to get there really early (I left home before 5am on this day). You get some great shots with the sun lower in the sky, you get a parking spot closer to the event (so if I need to download to the laptop if I run out of batteries on the portable storage device I don't miss many shots), the rowers don't have their club caps on for the warm-up so their face is a lot more visible, and the boats-all-over-the-shop situation that happens during warm-ups can deliver a more pleasing composition. The fact that I'm always the only photographer there before 8am always surprises me.

As can be seen from the shot, the sky was totally clear, which is pretty uncondusive for a colorful dawn shot. Without clouds to hold the red colour of the dawn, it is possible to get a strange mix of cold light from the darkish sky and very warm light when the sun has actually risen, as this shot shows quite well.

I had initially setup on the small beach just out of frame, but the lack of anything interesting in the sky (outside the sun when it finally appeared) gave me the feeling that I needed something stronger than a beach in the foreground to prevent the shot being a pretty boring "here is two lighthouses - how pretty" snapshot. There was a breakwater that run around to the left and out to the lighthouse in front of the sun, and as I walked along this, the potential to use this large plant for foreground became apparent. I was actually trying to frame the left lighthouse inside the leaves of the plant, but limited tripod room and the arrival of the sun spoiled this plan. With a dawn shot on a day with no clouds to hold the color, the amount of time where typical dawn light is available is only a couple of minutes. Before the sun actually rises, there isn't lot of color, and once the sun is fully over the horizon, it becomes too bright to shoot directly, and unless there is a lot of dust or pollution to scatter the blue light, there isn't much colour away from the sun.

As the sun rose, I tried to hide it behind the small lighthouse, but the relative ratios where wrong, and the sun overwhelmed the lighthouse. This turned most of the shot into silhouette, which took a lot of detail out of the boats in the harbour, but took a lot of the distractions away from the lighthouses. The star-burst through the window half way up the lighthouse was an added bonus. The star-burst has undergone no post-editing to enhance it. The symmetry and cleanness of the star-burst yet again confirmed the quality of Canon L Series Lenses, in this case the 17-40.

About 2 minutes after I took the shot, the sky was way too bright to anything close the the direction of the sun, and the direct lighting on the harbour had totally changed the way the scene looked. The ASRL Open was held in really small surf, so this was defiantly one of the best shots of the day, and I'm glad I took the extra effort to get down to Wollongong early to get it.

Technical data embedded in JPEG for those interested.


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