My wife thinks I am off my rocker. President’s weekend we took a very much needed three day trip to get some rest after the last three months of insane nursery harvest and shipping season. So why am I out the motel door at 5:30 am every morning – even when it is raining? This is why:
The forecast for that Monday morning was 60% chance of rain. It’s around 5:00 am and I’m tossing and turning in the not too perfect motel bed thinking I should roll over and get some needed rest. But I’m in Half Moon Bay for the first time and there is a (minor) storm passing by. Is it too grey and wet for photos? Is there any big surf breaking at Mavricks? Will there be a break in the clouds so I can catch a sunrise? Where should I head to?
I stumble out of bed, drag on yesterday’s clothes in the dark, mumble something sweet to Barbara and open the door to nothing but blackness. Ground was wet but was not raining – hopeful sign. But couldn’t see anything else about the sky – time to gamble on the morning. Headed south on US 1 for about 22 miles and found Pigeon Point Lighthouse/Hostel. We had stopped by there yesterday afternoon so I knew I could find an early morning spot on the cliffs even though visiting hours did not start until 8:00 am – well after the best potential light is past. Yep – still dark when I got there.
As the sky lightened, I was not liking the view and thinking the camera would like it even less. I was not looking for a lighthouse silhouette. So time to find another angle and test “not open until 8” rule.
Entered from the east (landward) side and took a bunch of shots. At least the rising sun will light this side and I liked the angle of the fences. Had some clouds in the sky that had potential.
I could have stayed there but I wanted to see what it was like from the ocean side. Some early risers from the Hostel were starting to walk the grounds and watch the sunrise. They seemed pleasant and were not giving me the evil eye as they drank their coffee. Or they thought I was one of them out for my morning vacation snaps.
Walked to the point on the cliff and started shooting back at the lighthouse as the sun rose in the southeastern sky. Sky is looking better all the time. Some low clouds/fog are crawling across the far off hill tops. Creepy fog looked great in the telephoto but the images were disappointing and not worth keeping. Here I was back to my original problem with the lighthouse being lit from the back and turning to a silhouette. Only one side was getting partial light. I only had one SB900 speed light with me and there was no way it could light up the whole lighthouse. But I wanted to see if it would help – and surprisingly I could see an improvement. Had to raise it high enough to not light the fence right in front of me and manually zoomed the flash to 150 mm to get a longer throw just on the lighthouse while I shot with the wide angle lens. Popped the flash many times at full power and highest exposure compensation. It was cold enough that the flash did not melt. Did not even overheat. Did I mention photographers are crazy to not only loose sleep but to also freeze in the pursuit of capturing an image? And that image is the top one shown above.
Well to shorten the story – I took a whole lot of bracketed photos and for a short while saw some awesome skies as the sun rose. Yes, in spite of the early hour and cold temperatures, it was worth it and I’d do it again and again and again just to capture a few images like several I caught this day. Did I get my much needed rest? Had to return home to catch up on sleep but the mind and spirit was greatly refreshed. Thank you Lord for creating what only You can create!
Ron Ludekens 2/29/2012