27 June 2014

The morning the water caught fire {Wellington waterfront photography}

I've well and truly been bitten by the dawn bug lately. I've been keeping an eye on the long range forecast each week and when I see sunshine and little winds forecast, my heart does a little flip-flop at the thought of the potential for photo opportunities such as these.

taken on the iPhone 

taken on the iPhone

The biggest problem I have is deciding exactly where to go. Living in a harbour city there is no shortage of vantage points that might prove worthy of a shot or two near the water.

Even though I'd previously been down at the waterfront only a couple of weeks before, this week I planned to try out the new shutter release cable I'd bought for the camera to allow for some longer exposures.

To begin with I walked all the way to the end of the Clyde Quay marina thinking I'd have a great vantage point in the dark back towards the city lights.

However, I didn't count on the very bright street lights they have constructed all the way along the new apartment/shopping development (opening in July) which rather ruined the opportunity for any dark night city lights shots. I'm definitely starting to realise why the pro photographers say you should always scope out your potential photo location in advance!

I was a bit annoyed at this point thinking the whole morning might turn out to be a waste of time. And although I wasted about ten minutes here, in the grand scheme of how the morning eventually played out it didn't matter one iota, so I'm glad I persevered.

F16 @ 60 seconds. ISO 100. 17mm.

One of the things I was most excited about was the opportunity to try out the new shutter release cable that I'd bought earlier in the week for $30 on Trade Me. Until now I'd been making do with the camera 2 second self-timer to ensure there was no camera shake with the long exposure shots I'd been taking. But the maximum exposure I could take was only 30 seconds without the addition of the shutter release which allows you to put the shutter onto 'Bulb' and decide for yourself how long you want to keep the shutter open for.


F16 @ 88 seconds. ISO 100. 14mm.

The shots above and below are nearly 90 seconds long, giving the clouds that dreamy, floaty look. The shot below is one of my absolute favourites of the day and was also selected by an Instagram group I follow wuoceania as their photo of the day.


F16 @ 88 seconds. ISO 100. 14mm.


As the sky continued to lighten, I turned my attention to Solace in the Wind (who I thought made an interesting looking foreground even though a couple of other people said it looks rather scary) sculpture, and at 30 seconds long managed to also get a lovely glowing candle effect in the harbour.

F16 @ 30 seconds. ISO 100. 24 mm.

I'd have been happy enough to go home after getting just these shots, but the sunrise had other ideas.

F22 @ 2 seconds. ISO 100. 24mm.

When I turned to look behind me, there was an intense glow reflecting off the clouds and onto the water.

F16 @ 1 second. ISO 100. 12mm.

It really was as intense as the photos show. And I found myself with tears in my eyes watching the splendour of this play out in front of me.


Morphing every minute or so, almost as quickly as I could capture it.


I had a little bit of fun with the above shot. Zooming in the lens on a 1 second exposure to give a very unusual blurred effect.

F22 @ 2 seconds. ISO 100. 16 mm.


The city managed to capture a few of its own dusky hues.

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F 5/6 @ 1/125 seconds. ISO 220. 13mm.


With the sun not long to rise, I moved to a better vantage point in front of the city directly facing into the sun and waited for the inevitable rays to begin casting their glow.

F22 @ 1/10 seconds. ISO 100. 200mm.

Wistfully thinking how amazing it would be to be out on the water on boat or canoe right now.

F22 @ 1/10 seconds. ISO 100. 55mm.

Can you imagine being these two on this morning?

F22 @ 1/10 seconds. ISO 100. 62mm.

It must have been like rowing across liquid gold.


At this stage I had been taking photos for about an hour and a half and I was starting to get hungry for breakfast.


Not only that, but I knew I had better make my way back to the car fearing the parking attendants would be out in force with the meters starting at 8am.

F22 @ 1/15 seconds. ISO 100. 24mm.

I still couldn't resist two more shots of Solace with the sun flaring behind him as I walked past again.

This last picture is - together with the boats reflecting in the marina I mentioned above - quite possibly my favourite of the morning. I love the position of the sun silhouetting the statue, the swirling clouds which are reflected so beautifully with equally similar colours in the water.

F22 @ 1/8 seconds. ISO 100. 14mm.

It was a magic morning to have experienced in person. Morning like these make me feel incredibly exhilarated, and good to be alive.

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