Category Archives: Sunrise

Keeping An Open Mind

The Making of the Reine Panorama

Following the interest in Janet’s Reine panorama image, I thought a brief account of how this set of images came about might be of interest.

We’d arrived in Reine village on the beautiful Lofoten islands in the early afternoon after a hard day and half’s travelling, but by the time we’d found our accommodation and got settled in, it only left a little time for exploration. We’d done our research on the internet before embarking, so had some ideas about the area, but there’s nothing to compare with local knowledge. We had a meagre meal that evening using the limited cooking facilities in the cabin then turned in early full of excitement and anticipation for the following morning.


The alarm went off at 5.30am and we bounced out of bed, had a quick coffee and out into the cold winter wonderland. We were just thawing out the car and loading up when Bruce Percy and his party trudged up the street towards us. It was our love of Bruce’s work that first gave us the idea of going to Lofoten, so I bounded up to him and introduced us. He looked pretty taken aback, so we let him and his party move on and we got ready to move off.

Next problem, the sun was coming up quickly, so where do we go to take advantage of it? We had to move quickly, so drove out of the village and parked in the car park overlooking the village. The sky was looking great by now, but the foreground from the carpark was scruffy and all the time the light was strengthening.


Panic was starting to set in, this was going to be a lovely sunrise, but were we in a position to do it justice? I moved slightly to my left and managed to get a shot of the village without the scruffy undergrowth in the foreground, but it could be better.


Time to calm down a bit and engage my brain. Check the image on the monitor and consider how it could be improved and also do a recce of the immediate surroundings for a better composition, as well as check the histogram and camera settings.

As I looked around I spotted a steep track out of the carpark that led to a flat area with an uninterrupted view of the village and mount Olstind. This was definitely what I wanted! Once in place and set up, the light was getting fabulous, this was the moment we’d come here to experience and capture! A mixture of the crystal clear arctic light and calm conditions was giving us an opportunity to capture some beautiful images. Note to self, engage brain again and do a good job. By now the light on the mountains was fabulous, so I set up and captured a landscape format image.


Then set up to take it in portrait format.

Early morning light on Olstind and Reine town

Bingo, a nice image in the bag, then back down to earth as I remembered Janet was still in the carpark. I shot back up the track to help her down the slippery slope to my vantage point, but all the time I was conscious that the sunrise was happening very rapidly infront of us.

Time was marching on and the light was moving from that cold early morning blue and pink to a much warmer orange, but we were in the right position, so concentrate, work the scene and hone our compositions and keep checking that histogram.

Early morning light on Olstind and Reine town

Once set up Janet captured the warming light on Olstind, then it was time to work the scene further. As the light grew stronger, it became ever warmer and Janet was able to capture the panorama that was to become one of the highlights of the shoot.

700-1-7295-R revisited-Edit

All this happened in the space of just under an hour, so elated with what we’d witnessed, we returned to our cabin for breakfast and time to review what we’d captured. It was at this point I was mortified to see that I’d chopped the reflection off the Olstind image.


I’d been so wrapped up in capturing the sky I’d failed to follow my own rule of check and double check the composition. Everything happens so quickly in these situations, it’s hard to keep your mind fully open, but it has to be done and only comes with practice. Looking back on the positive side, this image I’m so disappointed with has just sold twice to magazines, so that I guess isa  small consolation. As it turned this was by far the best morning of the trip, as the weather gradually closed in on us. Once home we were soon planning a return trip for the following year. Lessons had been learned, set out earlier, stay focussed and keep an open and active mind and above all check, check and check again. Our second trip was very good and allowed us to produce a strong set of images, but the conditions never compared with the morning I chopped the reflection off mount Olstind. It’s these little details that matter and I’ll never forgive myself for this silly error.



Gullible’s Travels to Saltwick Bay

Ever conscious that the blog is still getting neglected, I have decided to write an occasional piece on our travels.

The sun sets and rises in the sea at Saltwick Bay for a few weeks either side of the longest day, so this is a really good opportunity to capture a shot with the setting sun illuminating this spectacular scene. However a bit of research is needed as the access is limited by the tide, so consulting my tide tables revealed that there was a window of opportunity early this week. Add in the complication of needing the weather to cooperate and the window of opportunity closes even further. Looking at the weather forecast, I reckoned that Monday was a good bet and would still leave Tuesday and Wednesday if the weather didn’t play ball.

As I arrived in Whitby on Monday afternoon, the sky was clear and bright, then suddenly clouded over around 5.30. Still I headed over to the car park at the top of the cliff in the hope it would clear again. I’d brought my tent in order to be able to capture the sunrise the following morning, so had about 30kgs of kit to lug down the cliff path. Once the tent was pitched, I was able to have a leisurely meal whilst relaxing to the sound of the crashing waves. Not a bad life really! Meal over and I met up with my good friend John Potter and his friend Keith Foster and we all had a good chat whilst waiting for the sunrise to happen. Considering how few opportunities there are each year to capture this scene, I was actually very surprised that we were the only photographers there that night. Last year I had to queue at the wreck!


Keith favoured a position on the slab rock to capture the sun just poking round the cliff, whilst John and I set up nearer the wreck. As 9 pm approached (Sunset at 9.40) things started to get interesting and we thought we were in for something special. The sky did get good for a while, but ultimately the afterglow failed to light up the sky, so the show was all over before 10 o’clock.


Show over and John returned to his camper van whilst I bedded down in my tent, with the remarkably loud noise of the crashing waves to lull me to sleep. It actually was quite soothing and sleeping on soft sand is quite comfortable, even so I didn’t actually sleep very soundly.


It rained overnight and 3.30am soon came around! Sticking my head out of the tent showed it was very dull, so I went back to sleep for another hour. It was still dull at 4.30, but I was awake by now so it was time for action. In the end I busied myself taking some long exposures which I am actually quite pleased with, so it was worth staying overnight after all.


Part of the reason for camping was to test my gear for more remote adventures, so I busied myself making porridge and coffee, both of which were a success. John had obviously decided to have a lie in and the sky was still dull, so it was time to break camp. Camping on sand may be comfortable, but the sand gets everywhere and it’s a nightmare to pack up both the sleeping bag and tent when they are full of sand. Lugging 30kgs of gear back up that hill didn’t fill me with a great deal of enthusiasm either!

All in all a moderate success and I’m now looking forward to my next camping trip.

Castle Howard Dawn

One of the skills you need as a landscape photographer is to become a good amateur weather forecaster. So it was with mounting frustration that I watched the weather forecast predict 90% cloud cover only for me to miss several amazing sunrises and sunsets on days I wasn’t expecting them to happen!

Come Saturday evening the sky looked slightly pink again, but I decided it wouldn’t come to much only for the sky to light up like it was on fire moments later! There is a photographers saying that all the best sunsets are seen from the supermarket car park and I couldn’t agree more. Needles to say I went to bed on Saturday night in poor humour, but tomorrow’s always another day……..

We set the alarm for early and woke up well before dawn on a clear, frosty morning, so headed for Castle Howard. As we walked round the lake, the wild fowl were just waking up and making an amazing row. We were slightly disappointed by the lack of mist and colour in the sky, but still a beautiful frosty bright morning and a joy to out in the landscape.


Once we finished at Castle Howard, we decided to have one last go at shooting stock autumn colour, so headed off via Terrington woods to Hovingham woods. The colours were still vibrant in the woods and the light on the frosty grasses was wonderful, so we were not short of subject matter. By the time we’d got the shots we were looking for, the sky clouded over so we headed home happy knowing we had a few good shots in the bag.




As the autumn colour gradually increases along with the chances of getting mist in the valleys, I set my mind to thinking of a good location for capturing autumn colour. I’d tried both Newtondale from New Bridge and also further north at Levisham, but neither location had started to turn yet. I’d been to the lake at Dalby the previous week to shoot the dawn light and noticed that the trees were turning nicely there, so I decided to take a trip to the Bridestones to see if I could get both autumn colour and mist in the valley.


I got up before dawn on what looked like a most un-promising dull, foggy morning in the hope that I would get above the fog higher up past Dalby. As I made my way through the forest drive, the fog persisted, but I pressed on and hiked up to the Bridestones. I spent an industrious hour shooting dew on the cobwebs and berries whilst I waited for the light to come. As the sun rose higher in the sky the light improved, so I tried a shot of the Bridestones with a bracken fern in the foreground, then eventually I spotted the first signs of blue sky above me, so I changed my location to shoot the clearing mist in the valley.


As the sun rose even higher, the light started to illuminate the bushes in the foreground and the light turned beautifully warm on the surrounding area, giving me the type of scene I was looking for.



I’ve been meaning to return to Flamborough for a couple of years, but other things always got in the way. I’ve been working on a project recording the Yorkshire coast at dawn and dusk for about 4 years now, but a couple of poor summers had meant I still had a few locations to complete and Flamborough was one of them.


I needed to test my new camping gear in preparation for my forthcoming St. Kilda trip, so this was an ideal opportunity to combine the two. I arrived mid afternoon and did a quick recce, then decided to book a campsite, but the first one turned me away on the grounds it was a family only site. I ended up on a site a couple of miles away, which wasn’t ideal, then after a quick sandwich and a drink and it was down to work. The glare of the hot afternoon soon gave way to warm evening light and Thornwick Bay proved an excellent place to capture the sun setting in the sea.


I managed to capture some nice stock shots, then just before sunset the sun burst through and cliffs were illuminated by golden evening light. Once these shots were in the bag, I returned to my vantage point to capture the sunset and I wasn’t disappointed. The pre-sunset sky was good, but the sky just lit up once the sun had set. Remember never, ever leave a sunset until well after the sun has set as the afterglow is often the best bit as it was last Saturday.


I returned to my tent and set the alarm for early and got a few hours sleep. 4 am soon came around and I headed to Selwick Bay a couple of miles down the road. The sky looked interesting as I made my way down the many steps to the bay, but as sunrise approached, the sky lit up as it had done the previous evening only much better and what a sight! It’s moments like this that really make getting up so early worthwhile. The pink sky lasted a full 10 minutes, so I was able to work both sides of the bay and capture several variations on the scene, so all in all a very productive 24 hours.


Loch Lomond October 2012

Loch Lomond is one of those places we’ve passed many times (Usually on the way to, or from a Hebredian island) and we’ve always said “ we must visit one day”. Well we finally decided that we must actually do it, so we hired a camper van and set off to capture some autumn colour and we weren’t disappointed. Despite being mid October we were blessed with 5 glorious days that also gave us several great sunrises and a couple of good sunsets.

As landscape photographers, we often talk about the “golden hour” of light just before sunset, but the warm late afternoon light we got had to be seen to be believed. We often say we feel privileged to be in such beautiful places in such gorgeous light, but we truly do feel that way and to be able to record it for others to enjoy is always a bonus.