Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep… The alarm goes off… It is 3 AM. Rush through the shower, shave and get dressed before grabbing my backpack and heading out. Good thing I packed last night while watching the last day of the Olympics until about midnight. The road is fairly quiet and an easy 17 minute cruise to the train station. The carpark is pretty much empty and I get a spot right at the entrance. A brisk walk and I make it to the 4:05 train to the city. I set my alarm again. 5:25, wrap my arms around my backpack and lean against the window. Last night’s marathon sure has me tired. It is uncomfortable, and I can’t really sleep. Approaching Circular Quay, I wake from my derailed sleep attempt and turn off the alarm before it goes. Arriving at the International Passenger Terminal, I find the docks is closed off. Note to self: When you plan to shoot at the harbour, check the shipping schedule as well.
Walking past the terminal I meet up with Canon Ambassador, Emma Desira and about 20 other photographers that came out to shoot the sunrise with the #canoncollective. She is very helpful and explains a few things and techniques to some of the photographers while others find themselves a vantage point and start shooting.
The light show has started and I flick the VC off and capture my first bracket set at F5.6. I review the exposures, flick off the AF and adjust it manually, do a few calculations, flip to bulb mode and F16 to smooth out the water, plug in the remote trigger and capture for a count of about 50. Review again, not too bad, a little bit over exposed. Go back to bracketing to fix my first out of focus set mess-up.
It is about 6 AM and occasional joggers are starting to cause blur in my shots due to the wooden structures we are shooting from. This messes up more sets. Time to move. Trying to get a few compositional elements in the foreground but there are photographers EVERYWHERE. What the heck, they will become part of my images, this is intended as practice. I’ll come back on a different day when there aren’t 20 other photographers around. Something does not quite work as it should with my exposures. Oh! My ISO is still set to auto and I rectify it by locking in 100. Clearly I’m still asleep, or just not paying attention.
Running through a few more sets with different compositions and the colours is starting to fade. Almost too bright already for long exposure so I try taking 20 or so short exposures of the same scene to try my hand at stacking them to combine the total exposure time. The sun breaks over the horizon and I take the last few shots before thanking Emma and chatting a bit as I pack away. Forget to exchange business cards.
Approaching 7 AM, and I find a coffee shop and breakfast on my way to work.
The next day, I remember Emma asked to see my best image of the day, so I quickly run an import on my laptop while sitting on the train. 220 images. Looking at the first set, yep, out of focus, delete. Still have about 30 minutes on the train, not quite enough to go through everything and choose the best image as I’d have to do various HDR stacks first. So I pick the first image I could find with not too much clipping that is not too blurred. Turns out it was that first bulb shot, it will have to do. Move a few sliders around to adjust the exposure and global look a bit. Much harder than I thought using the touch pad on a train that is moving about. That’s it, I’m not going to bother with filters or any dodging and burning. Approaching my stop, I hit the export button with a generic watermark and pop it into my dropbox folder. While changing trains I download the image to my phone and post onto Facebook and Instagram trying to tag Emma in the process. It looks a bit skew… Obviously forgot to correct the horizon and form factor crop. It is still 4:3 instead of 16:9 and won’t fit nicely on my PC or mobile screen. Laptop is 4:3 so I did not notice the difference as I do when working on my desktop. Rush jobs are never any good.
Here is that shot:
Lots of mistakes and a few lessons to learn from.
Total Time Spent: 5 hours and counting (1 hour 30 shooting, 30 minutes editing, 2 hours of travelling and 1 hour prepping gear and blogging). I expect to spend at least another 4 to 8 hours editing the rest and will post them below.
Images Created: 1 and counting.
Learned something new: Yes
Fun factor: 10
A few more shots: