This was taken on the North East coast of Brazil, in a place called Tibau do Sul in Rio Grande do Norte during December.
This beach is at the bottom of some very steep cliffs, and the hotel I was staying in was at the top. Sunrise at this latitude is at the ridiculously early time of 5am, and getting out of bed, and then descending 200 steps (yes, I did count them) to get to the beach was a challenge of willpower. You can see a shot of the beach from near the top of the cliff here:[link]
Sunrise in Brazil always seem to be great, they just always have wonderful cloud formations there, and the fact that. even at that time, the air and water are beautifully warm compensates for the fact that they happen so early.Madrugada
by the way, is the Portuguese word for dawnTechnique
This was a tricky one to capture really. First, in terms of compostion these were the only rocks on the beach, and so the only real source of foreground interest. The problem was that they slope very steeply into the water, so it was precarious to climb on them, and my each leg on my tripod had to be at a different length and angle to the others.
Also, because the rocks were steep, it was hard to include much of them in the compostion without cutting too much sky off, so I was left with less foreground than I would otherwise have liked.
To compensate for this I used a faster shutter speed to try to capture the movement of the water breaking over the rocks and also use the waves breaking on the beach to create a leading line through the composition.
The other tricky aspect of this was the exposure. Another issue about shooting so close to the equator is the speed with which the sun rises, and thus the speed with which exposure values change.
After every 2 or 3 shots I had to take a new meter reading, and adjust the exposure and filters accordingly, as well as try to keep spray from the water off the filters whilst not slipping on the wet rocks.
This particular sunrise started quite cool, but as the sun crested the horizon, its rays painted the clouds this beautiful red, and bathed the wet rocks in warm light.
The range of exposure was very high from the shadows in the rocks to the brightest part of the sky.
Spot metering the foreground and water gave me a wider range than the camera could record without losing detail to either shadow (in the rocks) or highlights (in the water where the sun is reflected).
In situations like this Ill usually elect to lose shadow detail as I think its less obtrusive to the eye, while keeping the highlights in the water from clipping.
The sky was considerably brighter than the foreground, and even with a 3 stop ND graduated filter, there would still have been significant lost highlights there, so I added 1 stop ND grad filter to a 3 stop hard grad to bring the skys brightness within the range of the foreground exposure.
I managed around 4 shots before the sun was too bright to shoot in that direction because of the highlights in the water and the wet rocks.Post-processing
As usual, very little has been done to the original RAW file. First the horizon was leveled and a spot of water that landed on the filter was cloned off. Ive tweaked vibrancy and contrast in my RAW converter, and then the image was framed, resized (using bicupic smoother) and titled in PS.Metadata
Shot on Praia do Madeiro, Tibau do Sul, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
Nikon D80 | Sigma 10-20mm | Nikon cable release
Manfrotto 190XProB w/ 322RC2 ballhead
Lee 0.9 (3 stop) hard ND grad & Cokin ZPro ND2 (1 stop) soft ND grad
0.4 sec | f9.5 | 10mm | ISO100Comments
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