If, like me, you're a frustrated photographer, you have to take every photo opportunity that you can get. Even if you've been to that location umpteen times before.
I'm not exactly sure how many umpteen is, but I've been to Kemer, Antalya (Turkey), many many times. It's a beautiful place on the coast, about 7 hours from where I live, so, for long weekends in spring or autumn it makes a fine escape. Unfortunately though, this means I have photographed the living daylights out of the poor little place. So...this spring, how would I do something different?
This is always a good creative test: to find a new angle, and new 'in' to capture the place. I must admit, this year...I was struggling.
Kemer faces South East(ish). There's never a sunset as the sun goes down behind the mountains long before it reaches setting time, but sunrises are nice. Not the greatest coastal sunrises I've seen, but nice. Again, unfortunately though, I've photographed the sunrise in Kemer every time I've been there. How do I shoot it a different way?
Well, I could find somewhere else in the town to shoot it from. True. But there are limitations to this. The coast is very samey. Pebbles, and pier platform for swimming here and there...and not a lot else. The only option could be an early morning walk to Kemer Bay around 4am to be in position by the headlands in time for sunrise. This means running the gauntlet of drunk idiots piling out of the nightclubs looking for all manner of who knows what! As in this year when I sat photographing a brief sunrise listening to the terrible broken English of a Turkish male trying (unsuccessfully) to chat up a Russian girl, chat up? No, nothing that romantic I am sure he wanted only one thing and chat wasn't it. Quote unquote, "You a lesbian, that ok for me!" Yes, he really did say that!
Anyway, back to the sun and Kemer. The coast near the hotel doesn't have any interesting rocks breaking out into the water. Also, whenever we visit, the sea is a proverbial mill pond. Ripples, hardly a wave. Regardless of the limitations and options...I was determined not to loose the photo opportunity, despite having taking it countless time. If I'm honest, being a little bit negative about my chance of getting something, I wasn't banking on my creative ability to find something new. The 4:30 alarm call also didn't feel encouraging. Ma nature saved the day!
Saturday morning...the alarm went. I looked out of the hotel window. Thick cloud. The forecast was for a mostly sunny day, but it looked like no sunrise this morning.
Saturday night...I would try again in the morning. Really? Do it! I even put the camera next to my bed as if the temptation of those smooth buttons would help me get up and get on with it.
Sunday morning...the alarm went. I looked out of the hotel window. Cloud, but some gaps here and there. A big sigh followed. Do it! I hesitated, bed, wife, cuddle, sleeeeeep. No! Do it!
I did. 20 minutes later and I am arriving at the private beach belonging to my hotel sitting on a sunbed, lining up. Private security were here...helping to keep the clubbers away. Would the early start be worth it. Lots and lots of cloud. Few gaps still...
Tripod fixed. No need for graduated filters to balance the sky as there was so little light. It was a fairly balanced scene. The sky was glowing from the sun that was trying to rise. A break in the cloud suggested the sun would make an appearance. A slither of gold was appearing on the horizon above the far distant mountains, across on the other side of Antalya's long coast. But for how long?
Little stopper in place, I framed up the pier that has been in many of my Kemer sunrise shots (from a variety of angles), and took a long exposure turning the already calm sea to glass.
Breaking the dawn, f/11, 20sec, 10mm, ISO100
The sky began to glow, firey orange below clouds that now showered large but sporadic rain drops. I shuffled back under the beach parasol, perfect cover, and took another shot. The fire had begun! What particularly made this shot for me were the bands of colour. Sea, mountains, sky, clouds. I could've tried to pan for a horizontal camera movement to blur and soften the colours into a dreamy abstract. I didn't. I erred on the side of caution and concentrated on the standard shot, I could rely on Photoshop to add the blur later. I may not get many chances to get it right, as it was going to be a brief sunrise. The stopper was removed to caption motion in the waves...
Silence is (before and after blur added) f/11, 1/6, 85mm, ISO400
I fired off some more shots. I always take too many of a sunrise and sunset. Each brief change of light is another stunning scene! The first time I took nearly 150 shots I think...this year I think I controlled myself a little better. A little!
The sun had appeared. Again, no filters. Lined up the shot, focused on the end of the pier and click. How long would it stay? I deliberately kept the shutter speed fairly slow to try and capture a little of the languid motion of this very calm sea.
A brief moment, f/11, 1/8, 24mm, ISO200
Not long. Very shortly after, the sun had risen up in to the cloud bank. It made for some beautiful light and colour, but as I clicked a few more shots, it was clear the light show was over, but now nicely showing the pebbles beneath the crystal clear water of the Mediterranean.
End of another sunrise, f/8, 1/13, 15mm, ISO200
In some ways this turned out to be one of the better and enjoyable sunrise shoots I've had in Kemer. In the past, the long sunrise against an almost clear sky was nice, but that's all. Sun on clear sky doesn't make for a spectacular shot. This year I was treated to a gorgeous array of colour which, although brief, was well worth getting up for! Mother nature, you came through with the weather...I love you!
Have you ever had any problems fighting the comfort of the bed for an early shoot? Did you regret not getting up or getting up?
In my experience it's generally worth it. Even if you don't get a good shot, at least some peaceful moments in nature can be pretty wonderful...especially if you don't have to listen to a Turkish romeo trying every possible chat up line!
Share your stories, I'll be sure to reply!
The Frustrated Photog.