I recently went to Northumberland for a week for some R&R after my mum died. The plan was to take photographs in some of my favourite locations, find some new beaches, and to walk along them to clear my head.
The forecast for Monday morning was good: cold and clear so I decided to get up at 5.10am and drive 40 minutes up the coast to Bamburgh. On previous visits I've only walked on the beach south of the castle but according to my Photographer's Ephemeris app the lighting would be better on the north beach. I set my Google Maps and arrived safely at 6.30am. Sunrise was due at 7.55am but I like to allow time to set up a range of photographs and to make full use of the changing light before the sun actually rose. The best photographs are taken well before sunrise when the light burns its way over the horizon and through the low cloud.
The hardest part of a dawn shoot is getting out of a warm car into the cold and fumbling about in the dark changing shoes. I have now purchased a pair of wellies and these have changed my photographic life. Apart from the fact that my feet now stay dry and warm, (neoprene ones are essential), I can set up my tripod in shallow water which was never an option when I was wearing walking boots.
During the 1.5 hours that I was on the beach I took and later edited 17 photos but this image is probably my favourite and was selected for the #wexmondays competition on Twitter. I like it because the sunrise was at it's most potent with the reds lighting up both the sky and the beach. The eye is drawn to the castle as it is so dominant but it is also led along the waves, past the strong reflections to the sky. The image is also sharp enough to clearly show another photographer along the beach whom I later met.
It was shot on a Canon EOS 700D with 100 ISO on f8 for 1 second. I used a grad filter to enhance the detail in the sky. My lens is an EF-S18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. I used daylight white balance and manually focussed using live view (as I always do).
Post processing (Adobe Elements 11) was minimal and my work flow involved adjusting the levels to lighten the midtones and consequently tweaking the contrast to restore the intensity of the light. It was slightly lightened overall and then sharpened using an unsharp mask. No major adjustments were required so it is a photograph that anyone with basic equipment, tripod, alarm clock and wellies can achieve.
Whilst I struggle to pull myself from bed so early in the morning I always feel honoured when I have witnessed a spectacular sunrise.