Behind the image: Palawan sunrise


Image title: “Palawan Sunrise”

Behind the image:

It was my last day in the Philippines and I hadn’t caught a good sunrise the whole time. I had kind of given up on the idea and was opting to sleep in before a long flight home, but something woke me up at 5am anyway. The urge to check the skies, probably. I stuck my head out the door of my lovely hut, and saw a faint red glow on the horizon. Red sometimes becomes pink and I’m a sucker for pink skies, so I threw on my shorts, grabbed my gear, and ran. It’s worth noting that I left all my gear packed and ready to go just in case, the night before – a good habit to have. I ran down to the docks and asked the front desk of our hotel if I could join the sunrise tour they do, but get dropped off at a nearby beach. The rest of the tour was already loading so I jumped on, but we had to wait … and wait. The sky lit up all of a sudden, as the sun broke over the cliffs that blocked us in. I tapped the driver and pointed to my camera and pointed at the cove. Why not stay on the boat and shoot from there? The answer was because I wanted a long exposure to smooth the water, and a long exposure from a boat would never, ever be sharp.

To my chagrin, we waited for more sleepy hotel guests before we finally left, the colours still in the sky by already peaking. We pulled up to the cove, and I jumped into knee deep water and waded to shore. Tripod > camera > wide angle lens > check for water drops or smudges > settings > fire! For settings, I knew I wanted as long as exposure as possible to get nice flat water. It was already quite bright, having waited for other hotel guests, so the longest exposure I could get was 8″, ISO 100, f/22. F/22 isn’t amazing for quality of the image, but I needed to block out as much as possible. I continued shooting even as the sky got brighter by adding on a Neutral Density Filter, which blocks light, but the colours faded quickly. I sank into the sand, taking a minute to catch my breath and enjoy the moment.

This frame was the third I took, and my favourite. I love the colours reflecting on the azure waters, contrasted by the jagged, mean looking rocks. Totally worth the effort, even at 5am.

untitled-22 copy


Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/22
Shutter Speed: 8″
ISO: 100
Filter: No

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