Last Tuesday morning, I set the alarm for 4am. That’s the trouble with summer – the sun rises so early! 5:09am so the BBC Weather site told me. Add in time to get dressed and have something quick to eat, then drive there, walk to the location, set up and finally be ready to take the photo. I was only standing around for about 10 minutes before the sun rose. And sometimes the sky before sunrise can be amazing, although not this time unfortunately.
My location in mind was Caswell Bay, but as I drove along the seafront at Swansea I saw the tide was as high as it could be – meaning I misread the tide table. So instead, I decided to go to Mumbles and shoot a panorama to include the pier and lighthouse – something I first saw by Steve Moon. I first met him when he come to my exhibition last year and have kept in touch via Facebook and Twitter. What I didn’t realise that the panorama would be such a difficult photo to process once I’d taken it.
My current computer, 3.5. years old, was in the process of dying and whilst it could cope with the 21megapixel (130Mb) files my camera produces, when it comes to stitching 8 of them together it struggles. In fact, it took me all of Tuesday to stitch it. The big problem was the large patch of sea between the pier and lighthouse – there were no landmarks for the software to line up on so I ended up putting large X’s on two photos to tell the software where to join. At the end of Tuesday, it finally managed it. Then on Wednesday my new fast computer arrived (i7 920 with 6Gb RAM and Windows 7 64 bit so Photoshop CS5 can use memory above 3Gb.) After getting it all set up, software installed and my two 1.5Tb work drives put in I was able to resume work on the panorama on Thursday. I ended up having to skew, distort and warp sections of the photo to get it to line up and the panorama software hadn’t quite got it right. But thanks to the new quick computer, I was able to complete it with no waiting around for the computer to do stuff. Photoshop was using over 4Gb of RAM by the time I’d finished. So it took me a few seconds to take the photos and over a day to process it – I sure hope it was worth the effort!
After shooting that sunrise, I decided to stop by Mumbles Yacht Club and make use of the deserted area – it was before 5:30am! Although I did see someone fishing and a mother walking her baby in a pushchair… The light was OK, but not brilliant so I decided to have a go with my 10 stop ND filter – sometimes it really helps with a shot, others times not so much. In this instance I was pleased to have it with me.