The one thing Covid can’t stop is the sun coming up every morning and going down at the end of the day. And then rising again to a new day – a fresh beginning. Fortunately, the South West of Western Australia, where I live, produces some spectacular sunrises and sunsets – so I don’t have to travel far to enjoy them.
I am more a sunrise person than a sunset person because I love that feeling of a new start – a recalibration.
Sunrise and sunset both can be pure magic if you are in the right place, the right time and clouds don’t spoil the view! Sometimes, of course, it’s clouds that produce the best effects.
I’ve had more success photographing sunrises than sunsets. I don’t colour up my photos, I don’t use editing such as Lightroom or Photoshop. Not because I don’t favour their use, but because I don’t know how to use them! my sons once, on my request, bought me a simple version of Photoshop. They said they didn’t think I’d be able to use it. They were right. After several miserable and frustrating attempts, I gave it up! So, now the occasional slight adjustment with contrast and sometimes lifting shadows with the basic Apple editing tools is pretty much all I do. The colours you see in my snaps are for real.
I only ever shoot on automatic with my Sony camera – manual settings remain beyond my brain power. I depend on nature and my eye for a good photo, along with timing and luck.
The fresh crisp new day air of sunrises is the clincher for me. The thought of missing a good sunrise pushes me out of bed at almost insane times to catch first light – in spring and summer in this neck of the woods, this means being down to the beach before 5am.
It also means that there’s very few other people about – apart from a few early morning fishers, dog walkers and runners. Peace and beauty!
Occasionally, I have been able to capture an early morning paddler in Geographe Bay, caught in the glow of a rising sun.
Of course, I watch out for the opportunity to take sunrise/sunset photos whenever I travel. Just before the pandemic hit, I visited Uluru (Ayers Rock) – that massive sandstone monolith in the heart of Australia. Hundreds of visitors turned out to capture the sunrise over the rock – stiff competition to get a good place! Unfortunately, I wasn’t there on the right day for a spectacular sunrise and it fell short of my expectations.
I was happier with my photos when I travelled early the next day to the nearby Olgas – now known as Kata Tjuta.
DANGER AT DAWN
Sometimes, my early morning endeavours haven’t turned out as I expected. Travelling the Great Central outback Road from Western Australia to the Northern Territory in 2019, we had an overnight stop at the remote and isolated Warrakurna Roadhouse. And I was up before dawn to capture the early morning light on the surrounding Australian outback bush scene. The roadhouse had not opened for the day and its accommodation units were quiet with occupants still asleep.
As I ambled away from the roadhouse into the surrounding bush with my camera,I suddenly spotted a wild dingo stalking me. This is dangerous stuff. Petrified, I tried to keep my cool and avoid eye contact with him. I very slowly backed towards the roadhouse at a snail’s pace, trying not to alert him to both my fear and retreat. At the crucial moment, my hubby appeared. My knight in t shirt and shorts! He wanted to get an early start on our day’s journey and had come looking for me. He too spotted the dingo and motioned me to keep walking slowly towards him. The wild dog watched both of us and then turned away into the scrub.
One morning I will never forget was getting up early to see the sun rise over Tarkine rainforest along the banks of the Pieman River, at Corrina on Tasmania’s rugged west coast. Finding the right words to describe this unique wilderness is difficult – enchanting, captivating, spell binding – one of the world’s last great pristine wilderness areas. The website for Corrina describes it as a place to “feed your soul and nourish your senses”. I can attest to that, and feel so privileged to have enjoyed it.
I like to find find unusual things to feature in my dawn shots – like this old aircraft that now is used for visitor accommodation near Western Australia’s Stirling Ranges.
The silhouette of an apartment block and a crane helped out my sunrise shot from my hotel window on a visit to Darwin in the Northern Territory.
While in Darwin, I also captured a sunset shot with a sightseeing boat navigating bumpy waters!
Animals and birds always seem to turn out for a sunrise – so if I can capture a shot of them in the early morning light, I’m a happy chook! The one below was taken in a super red and surreal sunrise over Geographe Bay.
The Australian outback – with its air free of pollution – produces wonderful sunrises and sunsets. I love getting out to these remote areas.
Eighty Mile Beach in the Western Australian Pilbara region has both fabulous sunrises and sunsets. There is nothing else at Eighty Mile except the beach and a caravan park – and the most wonderful experiences with the sun! The nearest town north is Broome – nearly 4 hours drive away. And to the south, Port Hedland – about 2 hours/40 minutes drive away. Early morning beach fishers and the occasional walker can be spotted along the beach at dawn. And in the evening, people staying in the caravan park gather on the beach with their chairs and beverage of choice to watch the sun going down.
Overseas – sunset at Lake Ashi in the Hakone region of Japan has not failed me on two visits there. The magnificent Mt Fuji, in the far background, takes second chair to sunsets over the Lake here.
Sunsets always seem to attract bridal couples for photoshoots. Sunrise – not so much! Is it too early for them?
One popular area for sunset bridal shots near Dunsborough, (WA) is Sugarloaf rock, and professional photographers have the couples clambering over the rocks for a good shot at sunset. This can be treacherous exercise as a fall could be deadly. And most brides I’ve seen try to do this with their high heeled wedding shoes – definitely tempting fate!
But one bride I saw recently came prepared. I was impressed with her! Glamour wedding footwear was cast aside for more practical shoes. She hitched up her wedding dress, ready to go out onto the cliff face rocks to join her groom. I thought he had definitely snared himself a good practical wife!
Sugarloaf is one good sunset shot that eludes me. I try and try, but don’t succeed. So I end up focusing on people there, gathered for the sunset. It’s good to have a goal ahead of you, so I’ll keep trying to capture the shot I want!
This blog could go on forever as I have an abundance of dawn and sunset photos that I’ve taken over the years. My enthusiasm particularly for sunrise shots never seems to wane. Magic worlds seem to be revealed by the sun particularly as it rises, and I don’t want to miss them!