Albir Lighthouse, El Campello Marina and Statues at Dawn

June 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Albir Lighthouse, El Campello Marina and Statues at Dawn 

So… that’s May over and done with and June is now underway. 

There are more people on the beach, particularly at the weekends but we're also seeing more during the week as well, and the lifeguards have arrived on station now that the season is officially here.

This weekend there is a big lifesaving and swimming event happening on the beach near us, apparently there will be over 300 competitors although I’m not really sure exactly what they will be competing at.

Speaking of the beach, this week has seen the beach returned to its pre-winter storm glory. A big dredger has been sucking sand up from the entrance to the marina and this sand has been redistributed along the beach to bring it back to the depth that it was before a lot of it was washed away over the winter.

Photographically it’s all been about dawn shoots. Of course, as we are into June, the sunrise is getting earlier and that means I have to get up earlier in order to catch it.

The sunrise is also getting further north which means that some nearby locations are not getting any light until far too late to be of any interest.

I’ve managed two early morning shoots this week, one a bit of a trip and one close to home in El Campello.

For the first one I had a plan, and then changed it. The weather was supposed to be quite cloudy, which meant the chance of some interesting skies and colours, and I had decided that I was going to do a return trip to El Hondo nature park to get some early shots on the lakes there.

To be honest I had my doubts about the location at this time of year. If I was really lucky then it could be really good but, anything less than ideal conditions and the chances are I would come back with nothing.

Nevertheless I planned an early start and set an alarm accordingly.

Now, as it happened, I woke up early and made a last minute change of plan. Instead of heading south to El Hondo I decided to head north to Albir. My idea was to take some shots from the cliff walk on the Sierra Helada with the lighthouse providing an extra point of interest.

Albir is about a 40 minute drive and I needed another 15 minutes or so to get to where I was planning to shoot. I was actually there in plenty of time and I was immediately happy with my decision. The sky was looking quite interesting, the only thing I would have preferred was a bit more movement in the water below.

I took my first shot 50 minutes before sunrise. It was still pretty dark and I needed a 25 second exposure to get the scene. I was pleased that I managed to capture the light on the lighthouse flashing. 

Looking at the scene at the time, and later at the image I took. I can see how these cliffs get their name. Sierra Helada means frost mountains. They are so called because, at night and from the sea, they are supposed to look like ice.

With the cool tones of the early morning light I could see how that could happen:

Then it was a case of waiting to see what would happen as the sun came up. The initial moments of sunrise were pretty unspectacular. There was some cloud sitting right on the horizon and this blocked the first part of the sunrise and the light was pretty flat on the scene, although the sky looked quite nice.

After about 5 minutes the sun broke through a gap in the clouds and it painted the sea and the sides of the cliffs with light. I went for a wider composition to have both the lighthouse, albeit very small, and the sunrise in the same frame. There was a lot of contrast and I shot three exposures that I merged later (one for the highlights, one for the shadows and one for the mid tones):

I decided there was one final shot, this time showing a bit more of the Lighthouse. I recomposed with a longer focal length and waiting until the sun was nicely lighting up the rocks and the side of the lighthouse itself and that made for my final image for the morning:

My second shoot of the week was very close to home. For a while now I’ve had in my mind to shoot the marina at El Campello in the blue hour. The lights on the boats, and around the marina, as well as the floodlit medieval watchtower, should make for a good image. I wanted a still day so that the marina was nice and calm and the boats were not moving too much. A little bit of motion blur on the boats would be inevitable with longer exposures but I didn’t want too much. I also wanted the waters to be still as this would produce some nice reflections.

The marina is only a 10 minute walk from home so I didn’t have to get up too early. I wanted to be there at least 45 minutes before sunrise to maximise my chances.

I arrived in plenty of time and set up for the first shot. This was definitely blue hour. Both the water and the sky had a lot of blue tones and the warmth of the artificial lights on the boats and the floodlit tower with this blue made for an appealing combination. The reflection of the tower is not pristine as there was some water movement, especially with a 25 second exposure, but I preferred it that way anyway:

I then decided to shoot a quite ambitious panorama. I wanted to do a 180 degree view of the marina while the lights were still on. I needed 16 vertical frames to get the whole lot in and each frame was a 25 second exposure. It was a nightmare to process because the final image is a 234 megapixel file but I liked the end result :

When I planned this shoot I had a very specific image in mind over and above the two I already had. This image would include a bit more of the quayside and some of the streetlamp's in the foreground. This needed to be timed for when the ambient light got a bit brighter but before the streetlamp’s were turned off. This was important as I needed to balance the natural light and the artificial light and, with the streetlamp’s being in the foreground they would overpower the image if the overall scene was too dark.

Finally the light looked about right for this composition and I think the end result was worthwhile:

I had already worked out that there was no point hanging around the marina for the actual sunrise so I quickly walked up onto a section of the coastline that is called “Voramar de les Escultures”. I believe this must be a Valencian name as it doesn't seem to translate into Spanish.

This section of the coast has a walk that has three separate statues by an artist called Vicente Ferrer. They are all of women and one of them is of a girl or young woman lying on her front and reading a book.

I thought there was a shot to be had here of the statue in the foreground and the sun rising in the distance (over Sierra Helada north of Benidorm at this time of year). I just had to hope that the small amount of cloud in the sky would hang around long enough to provide that little bit of interest, and it did:

So… that’s it for this week. Next week may include another trip up to Albir to see if I can find my way to a better viewpoint of the lighthouse plus there will, almost certainly, be at least one dawn shoot somewhere. 

I’ll tell you about that in the next post. Until then… Have a great week.


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