Due to my job I only really get out and about for sunrise photography at the weekends. Following one particular washed out weekend I was looking forward to the next to “scratch that itch” and had, therefore, been studying the weather forecast for the upcoming Saturday since Tuesday. The weekend looked wet and my only hope seemed to be Saturday morning. Fine, you might think, but I was taking Friday afternoon off work for a Christmas “do”. The last thing I wanted was to overindulge and spend the best hours of the next day in bed with a sore head.
Come Friday I made my excuses and left the party late afternoon to get the train home. The forecast still looked touch and go, with a clear slot in between a couple of banks of cloud promising just a chance of something good around dawn. I was still unsure where to go — Dawlish Warren for some groyne shots [insert smutty joke here] or Budleigh Salterton for a go at my “default” location of the Otter estuary. It was high tide 90 minutes before dawn so I thought I’d take a crack at the latter with the trees of Otterton ledge reflecting in the high tidal waters (another fave location for high tide is the Cobb in Lyme Regis, but I knew that there was a photographic workshop on that day so gave that a wide berth).
When I woke up it was raining outside and Honiton was under a blanket of cloud. A quick check of various weather-related apps on my smartphone and the chances of a good sunrise looked decidedly slim, so I decided to go back to sleep.
Except I couldn’t.
Half an hour later I gave in, got up, threw on some clothes and headed for the coast, still under a blanket of cloud and with a bit of drizzle continuing to fall. Am I addicted to this hobby of mine?
Half an hour after that I was on location. As well as being a fantastically photogenic location, there is also a bloody great car park about two minutes’ walk from my “tripod holes”. Even though it was 7 a.m. I paid for a parking ticket as this car park is notorious for being checked up on and, as expected, a mere two minutes later I was set up and ready to go. It was an still hour until sunrise and the estuary was totally silent. A bank of cloud overhead was, inch by inch, heading East and threatening the clear sky over the trees. Another bank of cloud on the horizon meant that it would be a few minutes after sunrise until any light show were to start.
I waited and waited. Grey skies — no great photos today I thought. Bored of waiting I wandered up and down the river looking for alternative locations and eventually headed back to the camera, still waiting patiently on its tripod. 10 minutes to sunrise. No light show; 5 minutes to sunrise. Still no light show; Sunrise. Still no light show. I decided to stick it out and, then, 5 minutes or so later, a few pinky red edges to the cloud-bank. Before I knew it the sky was red, the water was red, and I was thinking “bloody hell!”. Strangely the few dog walkers who had congregated in the area for their morning ritual seemed oblivious. I resisted the urge to go “snap happy” and concentrated on trying to get just a few “good-uns” and I have posted them, below:
I then ran up the estuary path to an alternative viewpoint, hoping to get a shot of the first rays hitting the reeds as the sun crested the ledge. Unfortunately the ebbing tide had receded by just a few inches too much and my photo included the mudflats rather than another reflection shot. Still – thats splitting hairs as I still like it and, come the next dawn high tide, I may just be back for more …
(As I got into my car to drive home, the car park ticket inspector turned up, true to form. Glad I got that ticket ….)