Apollo Bay beach at dawn, a New Holland honeyeater at dusk, and playing in the shorebreak

Paradoxically, my favourite sunrise photos are taken before the sun rises.

These dawn photos were all taken from the beach at the bottom of my street in Apollo Bay, on the south-eastern coast of Australia.

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The view to the north-east. Cape Patton in the distance, starting to glow. Shallow water in the foreground momentarily mimics the curve of the bay.
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The view straight to the east, straight out to sea..
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The view to the south-east. The harbour mouth navigation light still shining.
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Wet sand at low tide looks perfectly flat, but of course it’s not.  The subtle gradients of the sandy expanses are revealed as the spent waves meander back to the sea.
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A solitary and camera-shy seagull getting his day under way.
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Intersecting long lines create fleeting geometric shapes.
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Perfect curves and arcs of shallow water overlap and intersect as the edge of the sea gently advances and retreats.
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Then there’s the vast perfect expanse of wet sand with not a foot print, not so much as a drop of water flowing – a blank canvas for the next wave, the new day and the next incoming tide.


Beach reflections

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While taking the above photos as dawn approached,  I turned around to see what the sky behind me was doing. These three trees are part of a long broken line of such trees right behind the eroding dunes. The moon was fading in brilliance and also in size it seemed as the sun prepared to take centre stage on the opposite horizon. But at my feet, in the expanse of pristine wet sand, were beautiful reflections of the trees under the moon in the fading night sky. Of course I turned the photos upside down to make the most of the beautiful effects of the water on the image.
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This photo suggests to me that it could’ve been taken from under the water just offshore, or more obliquely, that it is an impressionist’s interpretation of trees by the sea. Such lofty mental meandering was stopped short when a friend volunteered that it looked as though there had been a jam jar over the lens when I took this. The eye of the beholder….
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The visual suggestion of this being taken from underwater is disturbed a little by the clear focus of the seemingly subterranean layer.
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The original orientation of the photo below. Note the sea water easing into the picture at lower left.
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I like the juxtaposition of a little hint of the ocean (top right) at the same level as the moon in a vast sky, when in reality it was all really just a lot of wet sand with light playing on it.
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All is revealed.


The elusive New Holland honeyeater

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The golden hour is much loved by all photographers. I spotted this natural frame from the deck of my house at Apollo Bay before I saw any bird life in it. But I knew birds were plentiful in the area. The air was still, and all sorts of tiny things were suspended or slowly floating through the golden light.
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The natural frame in close up.
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With more than a little difficulty, this bird was later identified as a New Holland honeyeater. It was sitting just below the ‘frame’ I had found, and was eyeing off its next branch to perch on.
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The honeyeaters are real darters and to capture one in flight and in focus is difficult. This was taken at 1/4000th of a second exposure, and could’ve benefited from an even higher shutter speed.

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Bad moon rising

I’ve taken many photos of the moon appearing to rise out of the sea. So this marine buoy which courtesy of a gentle swell was rising like a full moon (repeatedly), seemed worthy of a photo or two. Adobe Lightroom does facilitate such childish mischief. But entertainingly, more than one person saw this photo without hearing how it came about, and after a superficial glance declared it a lovely moon shot….

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The moment the idea to capture my ‘full buoy rising’ shots occurred to me. I should’ve resisted, I know.


Simple pleasures

Just bobbing around in the shorebreak when nobody else is in the water is one of life’s joys.

Catching a wave, diving under a few sometimes out  of necessity but mostly just for fun, enjoying the brief ride skywards as a wave rears before breaking, allowing yourself to be tumbled in the alternating dark green water and clouds of white bubbles, diving deeper to touch the seabed as a larger wave breaks overhead, or simply floating on my back and enjoying the views all around me – these are among the things that keep me returning to the sea

A lot of my ocean swimming is preserved in sets of numbers. So a swim without numbers, just playing in the sea, is truly tranquil. I often think of how sea creatures swim when I swim over longer distances, yearning for the tiniest fraction of their streamlining and effortless power and elegance. But when playing in the shore break, only the seal comes to mind – the masters of joyful play in the ocean.  There is a permanent colony of 100 or so Australian fur seals on a reef off the point of the next bay around from where I was playing in the shorebreak.

When I swam yesterday there was an offshore wind, rain showers passing through, and the weather generally felt more like winter than autumn. There was a good long-period groundswell building, big enough for some fun, but not anywhere near the size where vigilance and planning and timely action are required for the experience to remain enjoyable. These were solid but friendly green waves, bearing only good will to any who surrendered themselves to the ocean. There were no adventures on offer today, just peace and relaxation. The sea is not always thus.

Floating just behind the shore break, enjoying the lifting and lowering of the swell. Wild Dog Creek valley in the distance just left of my right foot.
Sunny breaks in dark skies. Beautiful light on the textured surface of the sea. The offshore wind putting a mane on the breaking wave in the distance.  Marriners Lookout is the high point on the horizon.
I love looking down the line as the wave rises and the first hints of white water start feathering on top of it before it breaks.
White water reaching the shore in front of a very familiar landmark on our swims, the surf life saving club.
That dark green triangle at top right is the crest of the wave about to break. I took this as I was about to submerge and have the wave pass over me.
This captures the elements of the view under water as a wave breaks. The dark patches on the sea bed are clumps of seaweed.  I was in calm water when I took this. But the white water in bigger surf, especially in shallower water, can give you a flogging if you don’t or can’t avoid its power.
After the wave has passed over me and the white water is heading away from me, I come to the surface through the sloping green water on the back of the wave. It’s a peaceful process with ample time to enjoy the beauty (provided you duck dive early enough).
A wave breaking over the sandbar, as seen from behind the wave. The offshore wind is in evidence to the right of the line of sunlight.
In my element.


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