(click the image for a larger version)

(click the image for a larger version)

It’s an hour before sunrise and the alarm goes off. There’s that period, while you’re still drowsy, where you contemplate turning over and going back to sleep. But you don’t. You take a look out of the window to check if the weather is promising. If it’s completely cloudy or, just as bad, no cloud at all, then you may give it a miss. There’s cloud, however, and enough cloud to give you hope, so you slide out of bed and get dressed. Even in the summer it’s cooler in the mornings, so an extra fleece does no harm – it can always be stowed in the rucksack if it warms up. A quick cup of tea later (absolutely essential!) and it’s off in the car for the short drive to the lake, all the while wondering if you’ll get some decent light.

As you set up your camera, the sun has still not risen, so you’re still in the blue hour, and your images look interesting but cold. The shutter speed seems a bit short though, and a little bit of investigation discovers that you’ve left the ISO up at 800 from the previous shoot. A quick fiddle with the dials, and we’re back to ISO 100 – all good. A fisherman gives a morning greeting as he sets up nearby. You’re still not sure if you’ll get any decent light, but you compose your sunrise shot as an orange glow low in the sky gives you a clue as to where you should point your camera. Despite the wildfowl, the surface of the lake is still as a millpond, and the reflections of the warming sky seem to take on a life of their own.

Suddenly the sun appears on the horizon, and everywhere lights up with a warm glow. The light is perfect and everything seems to speed up as you press the shutter, trying to capture the perfect image. After a few minutes, the sun rises behind a bank of low cloud, and the warm colour is quickly lost. There’s a moment of satisfaction when you review the images on your camera, then you up sticks and head off to another part of the lake to see what else you can photograph.

Note: the image was as I planned (and hoped), although I cannot take credit for the swan. I was so busy pressing the shutter button that I completely failed to notice the swan that sailed serenely into shot. It was only when I got back and put the files on the computer that I saw it. Sometimes you get lucky. I preferred the shots with the swan compared against those without.

Photography stuff: 12-24mm lens at 12mm, 1/25 sec at f/10, 3 stop graduated ND filter (hard) to hold back the sky, tripod, remote release.