Looking for opportunity at Camel Rock
Camel Rock at dawn

Looking for opportunity at Camel Rock

I recently spent a weekend at Wallaga Lake, on the New South Wales south coast. Intent on stretching my knowledge of light and movement, with Camel Rock as my subject. Unlike my previous posts this weekend was purely about photography versus a holiday with photography coming a close second. As this trip got closer, the long-range weather forecast looked grim, with rain forecast for both days. I’ve traditionally been a bit of a fair-weather photographer, but I had an itch to get out outdoors. So, I went with the urge, and decided to ‘look for opportunity hoping to find the unexpected”.

I’d been to Camel Rock once before, many years ago, so when I arrived late on Friday night, I chose not to do a physical reconnaissance. Trusting that my memory would serve me well, as well as Google Earth and recent photographs viewed on the Internet. This allowed me to prepare my gear for an early morning departure and foray into the dark. Double checking The Photographer’s Ephemeris (http://photoephemeris.com) for the fall of the light at sunrise so I knew where I would ideally set up. With Sunrise occurring at 6.41 am and Civil start at 6.14 am, I planned to arrive at 5.45 am. It was also a weekend of the new moon, so if I chanced a clear sky there was an opportunity to explore some astrophotography.

When I woke the next morning, there was not a star in sight. The sky heavy with cloud, meaning that I may not really see much of a sunrise. As I approached Camel Rock I had to rely solely on my head torch to get my bearings, with no other light of any type to assist me.  Visibility made more difficult with the light bouncing off the sea spray, reducing my visibility further. The darkness had an eeriness about it, sounds seemed muffled and spookier with the sea mist. I initially set up close to the water line, cautious that the tide was coming in. Mindful that there was also a high likelihood that I would get wet from freak waves. My first shots were 30 second exposures, allowing me to capture the first light of a subdued sunrise. The sun masked by clouds, the slow shutter speed smoothing out the waves breaking on the shore revealing very misty waters.

Early dawn Camel Rock, South Coast New South Wales (Canon 5D MK III, with 17-40mm f4 lens, ISO 100, exposure 30 sec, aperture f/10)

I then moved position, knowing that the shoreline rocks would provide more character and texture in my photos. My new position opened the sky and the approaching dawn on either side of Camel Rock. A ridge of rock running parallel to the shoreline provided an opportunity to capture the full wall of the waves breaking against it. With the tide coming in and a low swell, it provided a little bit more drama to my shots, driven by my choice of shutter speed. As light was still low and the sun just starting to broach the horizon I opted for a faster shutter speed. At 2.5 seconds the waves were not fully blurred to a point of the water looking smooth. It also provided a bit of texture and allowed the green blues of the deeper water to become evident.

Blue greens of the water at Camel Rock, South Coast New South Wales (Canon MkIII 17-40mm lens f4, ISO 100, exposure 2.5 sec, aperture f/22)

The next morning provided a little more hope for a bit of colour and texture in the sky, as I woke to some windows of stars in the sky. The morning provided what I call a big sky with patches of clear sky and clouds with real character. Unfortunately, again a strip of cloud hung along the horizon, blocking the rising sun. I did get to capture a little bit of colour as the sun bounced off clouds hovering close to shore. The dark, rain heavy, clouds were given a kiss of pink, as waves burst onto the ridge of rock in my foreground.

A touch of pink at Camel Rock, South Coast New South Wales (Canon 5D MK III, with 17-40mm f4 lens, ISO 100, exposure 1/8 sec, aperture f/10)

All in all, it was a fruitful weekend, and I came away with some lovely moody photos. As a result, I’m no longer a fair-weather photographer. Enjoying the challenge of find opportunity and exploring my creativity when the weather doesn’t immediately inspire.

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