Friday, 16 September 2011

Making the most of opportunities

During a trip to Rye earlier in the month I had some thoughts of shooting the sunrise behind the wind turbines there. On Weds. evening I was round at Phil's mounting some prints in his workshop and, having previously checked the weather forecast (very light winds and clear skies), we hatched a plan to go down the following morning.

I set my alarm for 04.20h but woke up at 03.40h so decided to get up anyway rather than toss and turn in bed. There was a virtual full moon greeting me as I pulled back the curtains and I could make out a few stars too, so I knew the sky was clear (at least in Great Chart - no telling if it would be the same at the coast).

I took advantage of the extra time to make up two flasks of coffee (strong black for me and milky for Phil) before loading the car and heading off to pick Phil up on the way. I was pleased to see a barn owl perched on a fence post as I left the village - which reminded me that I had not been out doing much bird photography lately - something I need make time to address.

Having checked the location of the wind farm on Bing maps, we knew roughly where we wanted to be to take the photographs (on the public footpath at N50.951 E0.735) but it's not until you get there that you are really sure of the lie of the land and getting there in just moonlight adds another degree of difficulty. Anyway, we got set up and my first image was taken at 05:48h - a full 40 minutes before sunrise.

There was a beautiful glow in the sky as the sun edged slowly towards the horizon. Unfortunately it was to the left (North) of where would have been ideal but a nice run of pylons came to our rescue to fill the space.

All images are taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mk IV with a 24-105 f/4 L IS USM lens, tripod mounted using mirror lockup and the 2-second timer delay.

With the camera in Manual mode I played around with different apertures and ISO levels to get a range of shutter speeds that would allow me to capture the turbine blades both moving and static.
1/2 second exposure; ISO 50; f/7.1; focal length 65mm

As sunrise approached the colour intensity dropped off but when the sun finally appeared we were treated to a minute of the stunning glow that is dawn before the show is over.

The sun came up right beneath a pylon and highlighted some vapour trails left by aircraft earlier. This is a pretty similar shot to Phil posting below - no surprises as we were standing together at this time.

1/200th second; ISO 400; f/16; focal length 105mm
The sky that was left looked very flat in comparison but the harsh side-lighting on the turbines made for a pleasing effect.

1/80th second; ISO 50; f/5.6; focal length 105mm
We then made our way towards Rye harbour and were particularly taken with the mist that was still spread thinly across the marsh. The image below I've titled 'Mutton in the Mist'. For this shot I had switched to Aperture priority and used exposure compensation in combination with the histograms to get the exposure/effect I was happy with.

1/1000th second; ISO 400; f/7/1; -2/3 EV; focal length 70mm
We arrived at Rye Harbour car park around 07.50h and enjoyed a cup of coffee before walking down towards the sea. The light was still superb for photography and I took a few images of the structures beside the Rother estuary.

We will go back to the wind farm again, probably in December, when the sunrise should be directly behind the turbines. By then the sunrise will be later too and we may be able to persuade our other Wonky member, 'Anthony I don't do mornings Baines', to join us!

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