Dawn and Daytime on the Costa Blanca

May 06, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Dawn and Daytime on the Costa Blanca

Lovely weather for most of this week. Of course that really means warm with blue skies which are not really the best conditions for landscape photography but we have had a few more interesting days thrown in which have kept me happy.

Let's start off with a dawn shoot last Saturday. This was the last day in April and the weather forecast for the period around dawn was for a mix of cloud and clear sky. I had, as always when doing a coastal shoot, looked at the weather for a number of different location including El Campello, Villajoyosa, Benidorm, Calpe and Alicante. The reason for this is simple. I was going to be in El Campello but the plan was to shoot towards the rising sun which means I was interested in what the conditions were going to be like in that direction, hence checking Villajoyosa, Benidorm and Calpe. Alicante is in the opposite direction but I quite often find that, after the sun rises, there can be some really nice conditions with the sun at my back.

I chose to head up to Cova del Llop Mari. It's pretty much as easy to walk there as it is to drive as part of the route is a private road that I couldn't drive down anyway, and it only takes about 25 minutes to walk it from home . So I set off a little more than an hour before sunrise in order to get there while we were still in the blue hour.

Access to Cova del Llop Mari is via a small 'alley' between buildings with a set of steps leading down. The steps stop at a vantage point with a nice view out over the coastline and, as it was quite early, I decided to shoot a panoramic view from here before heading down the rocky path to the actual cove below:

Then I moved down onto the rocks below and played around with a few potential compositions. I was looking for where I would get some nice waves breaking around the rocks and, at the same time, keeping an eye on the clouds that were starting to clear. If they cleared too much then it would make the scene pretty boring, fortunately there was still quite a bit of cloud towards Alicante so I had that as a back up.

I took a few shots in the lead up to actual sunrise but there was nothing that was really appealing. Then, as the sun started to appear over the horizon, some more clouds moved into the scene. I waited for the sun to rise a bit more, I wanted to get some nice colours in the clouds and also get some decent light on the foreground. The optimum time came a few minutes after the sun rose and I fired off a few shots, trying to catch the best moment for the wave patterns. This was the result:

While this had been going on I had kept an eye on the other direction, looking back towards Alicante, pretty much 180 degrees away from the rising sun. As the sun climbed a bit higher it became tricky to keep shooting towards it so I turned to see what I could do with the scene behind me.

Using a rocky outcrop that has some trees and railings on from a house, and also keeping some waves breaking in the foreground, I picked a composition that would show off the colours that were both in the clouds and being reflected down into the sea:

And then it was time to head for home and a well earned coffee and breakfast

A little later in the week and I headed out for a scouting trip. I wanted to pay a visit to Cala El Charco at the southern end of Villajoyosa and explore the nearby cliff paths to see what opportunities they presented.

The access to this area is via a narrow road that has an, almost hidden, turn off from the main coastal road (the N332). I drove down and parked up near the pebble beach and then explored the paths. 

I had timed this for a late(ish) afternoon so that I have the chance to get some reasonable light, sometimes these scouting trips can produce some halfway decent images.

I climbed up onto the cliffs and checked out the scene, It was quite pretty and colourful and there were some lovely views. I took this shot of the view along the trail looking back towards El Campello. It's not going to win any awards but I think it's quite a pretty scene:

The main interest point in this area is the medieval watchtower that is perched up on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Unlike the tower in El Campello, this one has not been through the massive restoration work and so it is largely a ruin. There is actually someones house built into the peninsular right below the tower as well.


...but the light and conditions were not really doing it any favours and I knew that there was a great potential here. I didn't think it would be worth doing a sunset shoot here until much later in the year but, if we had the right cloud conditions, there was a potential dawn shoot in the next few days. I decided the keep an eye on the weather forecasts and see what I could get. More on that a bit later.

While I was in the general location I headed down onto the pebble and rock beach at the base of the cliff with the tower on. The sun position was better here and I noticed that a small pool of still water had formed that was producing a subtle reflection of the cliff and tower:

As I was not far away I decided to do a quick trip up to the old faithful location at Amadorio. I wouldn't be hanging around for sunset but there may be some options for this later afternoon light.

A bit of exploring led me under some trees and I decided to try a shot with the water and the dam framed by the branches. This was an exercise in what do when the sky is too blue and clear (and therefore boring) and I think it makes for a pleasant enough image with the nice colours of the water and the shadows in the foreground:

A bit of exploring around the trails and I found a derelict house. The house itself didn't really appeal to me but there were a number of outbuildings and one of them, nestled in some trees and with some mountains in the background, grabbed my attention. The frame was nice and the light was pleasant and I decided to get a shot of it:

So...After scouting at Cala El Charco I needed an early morning, with some nice clouds, and I needed it fairly soon as the sunrise would be in a good position for what I had in mind for only a few more days and then I would need to wait until Autumn.

The weather forecast for Friday morning looked promising. Heavy cloud cover breaking up just a bit around sunrise. Of course the weather forecast could be wrong (they often area) but you have to make your plans based on something. 

I set my alarm, rose early and headed out in the car. The first challenge was to find the turn off from the coast road. It's a little bit tricky in daylight but even trickier in the dark. I was glad that I didn't have any cars behind me as I tried to find it. After negotiating the rough and narrow road down to the beach car park I climbed the trail up onto the cliff top.

I picked a spot, set up, composed a shot and then settled in to wait for the light.

The clouds were quite thick and I began to wonder if the promised breaks around dawn would happen. If they didn't then there would be almost no light on the scene and this trip would have been for nothing.

About 10 minutes before sunrise the clouds started to break up a bit and some light started to come through, I decided on a nice long exposure, used a 6 stop ND filter and a polariser (not because I needed a polariser but because it blocked about another two stops of light) and managed a 108 second exposure that blurred the clouds nicely and smoothed out the sea:

I knew I had one decent shot in the bag but I was still hoping that the sun would put in an appearance. And so I waited. 

The sun wasn't going to be appear on schedule at the official sunrise time because it would actually be rising behind the distant Sierra Helada mountains north of Benidorm. It would take about 5 minutes after official sunrise for the first glimpse of the sun itself. I took the time to recompose the shot slightly. The composition I used for the long exposure would have put the sun a bit too far to the left of the frame for my taste.

Finally, the sun started to be appear and I was treated to some lovely, upward pointing, crepuscular rays (also known as sun beams, sun rays or god rays). I had swapped out the 6 stop filter and the polariser for a 2 stop ND grad, just to balance the sky a bit. All I needed now was some reflected light on the sea on the bottom right of the frame. Patience paid off and this was the final shot:

I waited around for a bit, just to see if anything interesting happened with the light but, again as per the forecast (will miracles ever cease), the clouds closed in again and the light was gone.

I packed up, climbed back down to the car and headed for home, a longer trip than the one here as I had to drive up the next exit and part way into Villajoyosa in order to turn around to head back to El Campello. It was well worth the early rise and I was pretty pleased with the results.

As for next week. I'm not sure what that holds. As we move towards summer I will be focusing more on early morning shoots so I expect a couple of early rises during next week. Why not come back and find out in the next post? (You can always enter your e-mail address and subscribe, I will send you an e-mail whenever I publish a new post.)

Until next time, have a great week.


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