04 August 2014

On my toes at the South Coast {Wellington dawn and long exposure photography}

On this particular morning to get any decent photos I knew I'd have to be on my toes. Firstly, I had only an hour or so up my sleeve at most as I'd promised I'd get to Noah's football which kicked off bright and early at 8am. So my choice of location was deliberate at the end of the road of the South Coast near Red Rocks reserve because I could easily get to football within ten or so minutes drive.

All through the night, the wind had been blowing up a decent southerly and I was rather dubious at my chances of getting out. The south coast is rugged at the best of times, and adding a strong southerly wind to it would have made it pretty unpleasant.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when I woke at 6am to hear nothing. The wind had completely died overnight so I took this as the sign I needed that I should go out! On the drive down through Happy Valley the temperature gauge read 3 degrees with a little frost sign beside it, so I was expecting to get out of the car and feel immediately frozen. I tested the waters putting one arm out the car window after I parked, and to my surprise even though there was a huge swell and the waves were breaking ferociously on the rocks, it was incredibly still. Result!

This was one of the more entertaining mornings I've had out and about taking pictures. For a start, I often find I'm talking to myself about the shots I'm getting and what's happening around me - I must sound totally crazy if you could hear me. And then there was the tango I found myself doing with the waves.

At a normal beach with a normal tide, you can usually gauge where the next set of waves will reach, knowing that after a while the waves will either be coming closer in or further away depending on the tide.

Not so today. On at least half a dozen occasions, I had the camera set up for some long exposure shots only to find myself high-tailing it with tripod in tow to escape the clutches of the enthusiastic waves as they surged past the very spot I had been only seconds before!

As the skies lightened, the Kaikoura mountain range became visible above the swell of the sea. Tantalisingly close yet still 100km away as the crow flies.

I can only imagine both how cold and rocky it must have been out on this fishing boat this early in the morning. Seasickness alert!

I was intent on capturing some of the amazing surges on camera, and spent a good deal of time with finger ready on the shutter button to try and time it just right. With mixed results.

These two seagulls caught my eye, having a stand-off across the rocks from each other with the rocks of Island Bay and the hills beyond Eastbourne framing their show through the sea spray.

I took a few photos of them over the course of several minutes, and neither seemed willing to be the first to move!

Once the sun had appeared over the horizon, the surging waves took on an incredibly pearly white hue as they smashed their way into the rocks beyond the shore.

With the time now ticking past 8am and a date with football still to make, I had to reluctantly farewell the coast.

But it has made me realise that it's been an awfully long time since we headed out this way as a family, and so I imagine a walk to Red Rocks and the seal colony will be high on the list of priorities for an afternoon walk together one day soon.

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