A couple of weeks ago I went to Alki Beach over in west Seattle to see a sunrise.  I had to get up at the crack of dawn (that’s 6am) on a Saturday morning to get the pictures.  While I was there I walked down to the beach and got this shot.  I really wanted to get an image lower down with the sun on the horizon and the waves lapping against the beach.  So I’m down there snapping away and after a few shots I check out the images on the back of the camera.

Looking at the pictures I saw something on the beach lying on the sand.  So I looked up and there was a small seal pup.  Now you aren’t suposed to get to close to these guys, in fact there are people who patrol the beaches making sure you don’t.  But this one didn’t seem to mind and as I was down there already I took a few more pictures.  I found out after I left that some women turned up, screaming at the other photographers there that they were too close, and they were miles further away from me.  So it’s probably good I had already got my shots.

Anyway the picture below came out well.  Sky colors were really nice, I happened to catch a seagull flying over the water directly in the middle of the picture and got the waves and beach and a cute seal too. That has to be a success.

Today the guys decided to climb something interesting, so they found a double bass.  They nearly made it to the top too!

Tonight I’m taking you back to sunrise at Alki.  The sky was really pretty and we had taken loads of pictures of the cityscape I was looking for something different.  Just further up the beach was this little pier hanging out over Elliott Bay.  There were actually a few people standing on the pier when I took this and they kind-a ruined the picture. So I hit Photoshop and now they’re gone.

This image was all about timing.  I really wanted the ferry in the right of the picture to have a counter point to look at (so it just wasn’t only about the pier) and I had to bide my time for the ferry to get in the right place.   I was lucky that the other people on the pier weren’t moving around too much so I got the shot.  There are so many things that make this picture nice, I love the sky, the reds are really pretty.  The boat and the pier are great (they were the things that attracted me to the shot in the first place) and I love the rocks under the pier and the waves lapping against the shore.

All in all I like this one and feel getting up at a stupid hour on a day off was actually worth the effort.

I think the guys were watching some Disney films today and insisted on both sucking the same spaghetti, it’s kind of Carter and the Tramp!

Last night I posted a picture of the Seattle skyline before the sun had come up.  Tonight I thought I’d post a picture taken from the same place 30 minutes later.  Sure this isn’t the same composition but it does nicely capture the sunrise above the city.

Just before I took this I was heading home, I’d agreed with Lisa to only go out for so long and my window of photography was coming to an end.  So I said my goodbyes to the rest of the class and started walking towards the car.  Once I turned round of course and saw this scene I had to stop, so I set up my tripod and started shooting.

This is another image that I didn’t touch in post processing.  This is pretty much exactly what I saw, the sky was blue with these amazing clouds and a yellow-orange sky.  It just looked beautiful.  I liked the big sky composition with the city in the corner so this is what I captured.  The water by now wasn’t really reflecting anything and there were no lights on in the city, so the buildings looked a little dark (almost in silhouette).  But as the sky was the primary subject I thought that was ok.

Anyway I really liked the end picture, hope you do too.

Tonight the Halo guys started to clean out their pumpkin in preparation for some carving tomorrow.

Wow, what a day!  It started badly but in the end it was all worth it.  I got up at 2:30am with a plan to drive to Haleakala to see the sunrise.  Getting James and Abi out of bed at 10am is difficult when there’s no school, you try doing it at 2:30am!  After lots of shouting, I mean encouragement, they finally got up and we headed down to the valet dudes to get our car.

Unfortunately they had no record of our car, and had to go looking around the garage with the license number.  When they finally found it, I realized we didn’t have the map telling us how to get to Haleakala, and I had to run (yes run) back to my room to get it.  I wanted to leave at 3am, but it was now quarter after and I was worried we would miss the sunrise.

“Hang on a minute” I hear you ask, “what time does the bloody sun come up there?”  Well it was supposed to rise at 5:40am but the place we were driving to was over two hours away.

So off we went, a little late starting but with my foot firmly on the floor I planned to catch up the lost time.

Now I love my wife, but she is not the “best” at map reading.  I, on the other hand, am not the best person to be with at 3am with a poor map reader, so the “discussions” started quickly and soon everyone was feeling frustrated and stressed, especially as we were going to spend the next 5 hours together, most of it in a car.

So what is Haleakala?  What’s the big deal and why bother getting up that early?  Surely a sunrise is just a sunrise?

Well apparently there are normal sunrises and those you see from 10,000 feet at the top of Maui’s extinct volcano, Haleakala.  At the top of the mountain (let’s call it that, nobody voluntarily drives up a volcano), there’s a National Park with viewing platforms for you to stand and watch the sunrise.  They tell you it’s cold up there so you should bring lots of warm clothing, but I figured this was Maui, how cold is it gonna get?  I mean it was 75 degrees at 3am.  Lisa didn’t share my confidence and got some towels from the valet dudes just in case, also Abi, James and Lisa all had on multiple layers.  I had on shorts and a t-shirt.

The drive to Haleakala is rather special – probably not the right word but it will do.  We had to drive pretty much round the base of the mountain until we found the one and only road that takes you to the top.  This road – using the term road loosely here – is very bendy.  Actually that’s a huge understatement, it’s incredibly bendy and the reason it takes 2 hours is that you spend most of the time going back and forth across the mountain as you slowly climb.  Add to this you are driving next to a sheer drop with no idea just how far you’d fall because there are no lights anywhere and you were stupid enough to go there before the sun came up!

But eventually you get to the top and we were there an hour early.  This is both good and very bad.  The good bit is you get a parking place, and you get a prime location to view the sunrise.  This is important as over the next hour, every man and his dog turns up and tries to push past you so they get a better view.  The bad bit is that it is unbelievably cold.  I mean penguins won’t go up Haleakala coz it’s too cold.  And idiot here is standing there (with 20 mile an hour freezing winds coming right at him) in shorts and a t-shirt!

So I pinched one of Lisa’s towels, ate enormous amounts of humble pie and proceeded to shake and shiver for 60 minutes.  In my 48 years this was probably my least favorite start to the day – and considering I served in the army for 9 years I’ve had a lot of crappy ones.

Eventually however the sun does come up.  And when I get the feeling back in my hands I may even think it was all worth it.

I took maybe 300 pictures of the sunrise.  One of the things that makes it different is the fact that you are well above the cloud base so the sun is actually coming up over clouds.  It actually looks like what you’d see from an airplane’s window.  The clouds make this amazing as the colors that get reflected off the sky and clouds are just beautiful and range from yellows, reds and oranges to violet and purple.  Truly amazing.

Now after an hour and a half going over the images I chose the one below.  But here’s the thing.  Everyone knows I love Photoshop and everyone knows I play about with colors and effects, but (you’ll going to have to trust me on this one), I made very little changes to the image below.  In fairness I did two things.  I removed some grainy noise from the image to make the texture smoother, and I colored in the center of the sun as that was so bright, it was white in my picture.  I used the yellow color that was around a majority of the sun and think it improves the image.

So the sun comes up and Lisa says, “hmmm OK I s’pose, OK, lets go” and she marches off to the car with Abi – who was freezing poor thing.  So I took a few more pictures and followed them back to the car.

The journey home was about as much fun as the trip there.  Firstly you can now see how far you will fall if you go over the edge, and secondly we learnt that lots of bends in the road make Abi violently sick!  But I’m sure once her tummy settles and she looks at the pictures she too will feel it was all worth it.  On second thoughts, probably not.

Carter and Master Chief decided to do a little rock climbing today – I was very impressed, it was a pretty difficult climb.