An Early Start Rewarded


My favourite time of the day to shoot landscapes is dawn, I just love being out in the fresh air and watching the sun rise above the horizon. At this time of year in Scotland sunrise is round 4:25am, which means a very early start to get in position.

Luckily, I have plenty of beautiful locations to visit here in my home town of Dunbar and Barns Ness Lighthouse, which is only five miles from my front door, ranks as one of the very best.

So I checked the weather forecast, set my alarm for 3am and packed my camera gear ready for a very early start.



Luckily the forecast was correct with high clouds and the potential for a fiery sunrise so I got in the car and head out to Barns Ness to set up.

I was trying out a brand new tripod on this photoshoot, a recently purchased 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy carbon fibre tripod.  This was replacing my sturdy, but weighty, Manfrotto 055 aluminium tripod, with an option ball grip head.  The 'Billy' was almost the same height when extended but is half the weight of the Manfrotto and packs down to a smaller size, which is going to very useful from next month when I start travelling again for work.

I set the Fujifilm X-T4, with the XF16-55mm f2.8 lens attached, on the tripod and screwed on the Haida M10 filter holder to the front of the lens.  For the pre dawn shot at the top of the page I used the new Haida 1.8 (6 stop) ND filter to increase the exposure to 30 seconds to get some movement in the clouds and smooth the water in the bay.



After the first shot I changed the lens to the Fujinon XF10-24mm f4 wide angle zoom.  I also switched the 1.8 ND filter to the 4.5 (15 stop) ND, to increase the exposure time to two or four minutes.

I moved positions several times to capture the light as it changed rapidly as the sun rose higher in the sky.  Because I was shooting long exposures I also had my Fujifilm X-T3 fitted with the XF200mm f2 telephoto on my shoulder to take images while the clock counted down on the X-T4. The images varied from close ups of the sunrise to some of the seabirds that were feeding on the shoreline.



I also had my iPhone11 set up to take pictures and video using the DJI Osmo Mobile 3, capturing images like the panoramic image selfie further up the page and the picture of the rising sun below.  I also used the Moment Macro lens to capture some close up images of some shells on the beach.



In addition to the pair of Fujifilm X-Ts and the iPhone I was recording the scene on a pair of GoPro Hero 8 Blacks, with one shooting the sunrise as a time-lapse and the other shooting the scene in 4K.  The GoPro shooting the time-lapse sequences was bolted to my Manfrotto BeFree carbon fibre travel tripod and the second GoPro shooting 4K video was on the short selfie tripod I bought from Amazon.

I used the iPhone to supplement the video taken on the GoPros to produce a short behind the scenes video for the MacLean Photographic website and Vimeo and YouTube channels.





I headed back to the house to get some breakfast at around 7:30am after nearly four hours of shooting some beautiful light in peaceful surroundings, with hardly another person in sight.

Here are some of the other images I shot during the first light of the day at Barns Ness.











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MacLean Photographic runs Photography Workshops in East Lothian and the Borders of Scotland.  
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