I regularly wake up before dawn, look out the window, and decide if it's worth heading out to capture the sunrise, or it's better to just go back to bed. Sometimes I take a chance, grab the camera bag, and head down to the beach and hope for the best. Quite often the sunrise is great, but not quite what I'm looking for. This time is never wasted though, as I often meet other photographers, and have a bit of a laugh. It's a great way to start the day.
A couple of weeks back I woke up later than normal. I'd been out the morning before, and didn't plan on going out that morning. Blearily, I looked out the window, expecting to be able to turn around and go back to sleep. Instead I was greeted by perfection: Ahab's white whale, the holy grail of sunrises. Once every three to four years, there's the perfect sunrise, clouds just above the horizon, catching the light of the sun still some distance below the curvature of the earth (or France), turning a deep red. To top it all, a storm front was slowly making its way in from the west, catching and changing the light even more.
I raced out of the house, and quickly made my way down to Sunny Sands. The tide was at its lowest point, leaving vast amounts of smooth, damp, reflective sand, completely untouched. Conditions could not have been better. I quickly set up my tripod at the entrance to the harbour mouth, right where the Pent Stream joins the sea. This slowly moving body of water gave me the foundation to capture reflections of the sky with the wall of the harbour looming over the scene.
A shift over to the left to capture a runaway trickle, giving me a foreground of patterns leading the eye out to sea and the horizon. With the sun just starting to peep over the horizon, a quick run over to the waves lapping gently on the sand gave me the opportunity to capture flecks of foam reflecting the rising sun, and a quick angle change and 10 stop filter to slow the shutter speed, giving a beautiful sense of movement to the water. Finally, just as raindrops were starting to fall, I dropped the camera down to about one inch above the sand, giving me an incredible reflection of the clouds in the wet sand. Packing away the camera, I enjoyed the last moments of sunrise before the storm clouds turned the whole scene grey. One of those perfect sunrises I was fortunate enough to witness and capture...
Dawn on Sunny Sands Mk.2
Sunrise on the Sands Mk.3
Sunrise on the Sands Mk.1
Sunrise on the Sands Mk.2
Sunrise on the Sands Mk.4
In my Camera Bag
A rummage through my equipment
'I'm more of a Canon man myself,' I'm told on a regular basis when someone sees my cameras on a shoot. When pushed as to why, there's usually a mumbled response before said person wanders off on their merry way, leaving me none the wiser as to why one brand is better than the other.
I use Nikons. I've used Nikons for over 25 years, along with other brands, but most of my work is shot on Nikons. It happened to be the camera model I chose when I bought my first used SLR in 1997. What drove this decision to choose this brand? Price. It was what I could afford at the time, a used Nikon F401 with a 35-80mm lens. Over time I purchased a couple more lenses, and was then invested in the Nikon system. More Nikon bodies meant a deeper investment, and so on, until a decision to now change manufacturers would mean a hefty investment in new equipment, while trying to claw back what I've already invested in my gear. What would I gain by doing this? I have no idea. I do look at new camera equipment coming out, and think, 'Wow, more megapixels. Better focusing, better image stabilisation.' Will it improve my photography? Make me a better photographer? No. I'd be better off improving my technique, focusing on what is lacking and working on that. Make no mistake, there are some cameras out there where I find myself revisiting the manufacturer websites to see if for some reason a zero has magically fallen off the end of the price, making it feasible for me to purchase their basic models without remortgaging or winning the lottery, (Phase One or Hasselblad, if you're listening...)
I use two main cameras these days, a Nikon D4 and a Nikon D750, although lately I've been favouring the D750, as it's the lighter of the two bodies and the flip-out screen helps when composing very low shots. The youngest of these two is now 8 years old, both have shot hundreds of thousands of images between them. The D750 has had a new shutter system in it, as I wore out the original one, but they do what I need them to do. Overlooking stupidity on my part, leaving batteries or memory cards at home, they have never not worked when needed. They are both full frame sensors (the digital sensor being the size of an original 35mm negative), giving me plenty of scope when printing larger images. The D750 has the edge in low light, making it ideal for astro photography. The D4 is super fast, making it great for any action based photography, not that I do much of that these days, but between the two, they cover my needs.
If one of those zeros were to magically disappear though, that would be a different matter.
Through the Viewfinder
Are we coming or going? No idea...
Coronation parade at Dawn
The Tide Through The Rocks
As we enter our busy Christmas season, I'll be sticking closer to home, and focusing on a few ideas I've had over the past year. More morning shoots on the beach, playing with slow shutter speeds to capture the movement of the tide. I've always found the light more exciting in autumn and winter, so hopefully the change in the seasons lives up to expections.
Our pop-up shop on the Old High Street in Folkestone opens from the 23rd November onward, so do come and say hello.