Waking up at a little after 4am on a Saturday morning isn't an ideal situation, especially when there isn't a new born who is dependent on me, like most of my friends these days.
When noticing the outside light brightening thru my curtains I poked my head thru them and had a look out the window. The morning 'blue hour' was reaching its mid-point, which meant that the sunrise was going to appear shortly. Scanning the sky I could see a scattering of clouds around and the horizon to the east was looking pretty clear. This could be a good opportunity for a sunrise photo shoot.
I previously had an idea for a sunrise location near to where I live. So this was a good time to give it a try. No need to go out scouting for a location prior to doing the shoot.
Sandymount Beach is near Dublin City centre. When it's low tide the beach stretches out around 1 kilometre from the shore. It also has a view to the left of one of Dublin's cityscape icons, the Pigeon House Chimneys They may not be the prettiest thing to see from a beach but for Dubliners they are essential landmarks. When flying into Dublin Airport you will always know you are home when you see these two towers from the left side of the airplane. Also they are nearly visible from anywhere on the Dublin coastline.
The two towers are the original chimneys from the power station built in 1903, and finally decommissioned in 1976. The chimneys still stand today, even after a plan in 2002/2003 was put forward to clear them, and the surrounding historical buildings, to make way for a new commercial and residential area. Just over 10 years on the landmark towers are under attack again from property developers. As with most Dubliners, I am on the side of conserving these icons of the Dublin landscape.
The first building of the reclaimed land came in 1760's when the city built a harbour wall on the south entrance into the city, as there were too many shipwrecks due to the shallow and heavily tidal estuary. The "South Great Wall" was finished near the end of the 18th century and was the longest in Europe at the time. Since then the reclaimed land has hosted many buildings and industries, including a hotel in 1780's and a TB hospital for the first half of the 20th century.
So I arrived at Sandymount Beach a little after the top of the sun was over the horizon. I quickly grabbed my gear and ran out about 200 meters on to the sand. Choose the composition I wanted and checked all the settings. I looked up at the sunrise. It was now starting to be covered by a low layer of cloud. I still had enough of the sun in view for a decent photo but it would be completely blocked by the clouds very soon. I was lucky to be able to capture the shot below in the small amount of time I had available.
On Monday I went out to shoot my first sunrise photo over Dublin bay.
After a 3.30am wake up I was a little fuzzy in the head to start, but by the time I got my camera gear packed into the car and arrived at the location I was ready to go. Especially with the beautiful blue light I was greeted with, pre-sunrise. I choose to shoot at Seapoint sea front. I have shot there before, so I felt a little more comfortable to do my first early morning shoot there.
I selected a composition that would show the point on the horizon where the sun would appear first, due east. Using a Canon 17-40mm f4 L lens, set at 19mm, nice and wide, the background framed south and north coast lines of Dublin, right and left respectively. The foreground, in the lower third of the composition, showes the ramp used by swimmers to enter the water.
There was a small amount of waves coming in to hit the ramp, and as the tide was going out I wasn't too happy with the initial test shots. Plus my focal depth was a little tight. I made the decision to try a neutral density filter and go to f10. The results with an ND8 were better but not quiet what I was looking for, so I tried an ND1000. Pushing it 10 stops did the job. It helped soften the sea surface and smooth out the contact between the waves and the ramp.
At this stage it was about 4.50am. Sunrise was scheduled for 5.03am. I had time to adjust and define the exposure timing.
The final image was taken at 5.05am, ISO 100, 19mm, f10, and 10.0 sec exposure time.