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When the sunrise fails, look at the smaller picture

About Kathleen

Having it all and enjoying every minute of it .... mostly

Photographer, traveller, adventurer.

You are never too old to go on an adventure.


What is it about being away that makes you do things you don’t do at home? And I don’t mean getting pissed and dancing on the bar in the local pub – I do that at home.I mean getting up and photographing the sunrise over the beach.

I live by one of the most beautiful beaches in Sydney. It has waves crashing on rocks, rockpools, natural areas, beautiful sand and great surf. And it faces east, so is perfect for the sunrise. Yet somehow, it never seems urgent that I get up that early.

One of the stunning sunrises captured by Kathleen Swinbourne.

One of the stunning sunrises captured by Kathleen Swinbourne. Picture: Kathleen Swinbourne

But whenever I'm away, I get up with the kookaburras just before sunrise. I can even drive half an hour or more to get that perfect photo of the sunrise.

Recently I was working on the south coast for a few days, staying about half an hour from the beach. Still, I got up two mornings in a row to drive out and take sunrise-over-the-ocean photos. I had to go the second morning because on the first, I got lost and couldn’t find the beach. I know, I know, drive east until you hit the ocean. How hard can it be?

Well, harder than you’d think, as it turns out.

Once you get away from the city, beaches aren’t easily identified by large car parks, promenades and overdevelopment. Often the beaches are much more natural, bordered by natural vegetation so you have to find those secret pathways through the trees before you get to the beach.

And not all roads take you there.

Some roads just end, while others loop back away from the beach again. It took me a few goes until I found the correct road. Unfortunately, by the time I did, I’d missed the best part of the sunrise and the sun was already peeping over the horizon. Which was a shame, because while I was driving around like a lunatic, I could see the most beautiful red clouds just screaming out to be photographed.

But when shit happens, make lemonade, as they say. Or something like that. The light was still beautiful and the scenery was magnificent, so I got off a few shots and decided to come back the next morning to try again.

Unfortunately, the second morning was completely overcast so there was no visible sunrise at all. Just a gradual lightening of the very dull, grey sky.

In the making lemonade vein, I turned from the disappointing big picture to the very small.

Kathleen Swinbourne believes in creating beautiful opportunities from disappointment.

Kathleen Swinbourne believes in creating beautiful opportunities from disappointment. Picture: Kathleen Swinbourne

It rained the night before, and there were still raindrops on the grass and hanging from the leaves of the trees. What better opportunity to use my micro lens?

So there I was, crouched on the wet grass, or standing in among dripping branches, trying to get close-up photos of drops of water. I had varying degrees of success, because even with a super-close up micro lens it’s not easy focusing that close. But I was very excited when I managed to get reflections of the surrounding vegetation in the drops.

And to top it all off, on the way back, I saw kangaroos in a clearing.

Read more from Kathleen Swinbourne: This could be heaven, or it could be hell

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