My first ever Sunrise Shoot at Moeraki Boulders

Queens Birthday is a 3 day weekend here in NZ, and its the first weekend in June. 3 days beforehand I crashed my car, but my BFF (DJ) managed to wangle permission to use her work car, and so our Roadtrip to Oamaru was still on. Destination Steampunk Fashion show and Sunrise at Moeraki Boulders.

The boulders are a fascinating geological sculpture on a beach at a place called Moeraki, about 30 min south of Oamaru (the nearest big settlement in the area). They have been a popular tourist stopoff for years and the focus for many photographers. I checked the tide times and sunrise times, and they were in alignment, so the plan was to get up early on Sunday for a sunrise shoot. We allowed a little extra time to get there and as the horizon got lighter and lighter as we were still driving, I was starting to get concerned that we wouldn’t make it. I know the way but its been a few years since I travelled that road regularly, but we got there.

Of course, it started to rain halfway there, but the fabulous DJ had not just a torch (which I had forgotten to bring) but an umbrella as well πŸ™‚ We made our way down the steps and down to the beach and along to the rocks, where I discovered the first hiccup. My tripod had been damaged in the accident, and I had only just discovered it. With some frantic searching I found a bit of wood to pry open the closed latch (the flap had broken off) and then found the leg had been squashed, but with some heroic pulling I managed to get it pulled out.

Spent some time looking at composition, where the sun was in relation to the rocks, as there are several large ones standing alone, clusters of smaller ones in the tide, and a big area of broken ones (looked like a nest of broken dinosaur eggs). In the end I had plenty of time and got a variety of shots – here are my faves:



This is a landscape composition of the same rocks above shot in portrait


This is an HDR processed image – I don’t do mornings at the best of times, and I COMPLETELY FORGOT to shoot with fixed aperture for the different exposures on this – hence the slightly wonky areas of focus πŸ™‚

OamaruEdHDR- SUNRISE at Moeraki Boulders

After the sun rose, the light was very flat and muted, but I wanted to get the sea foaming around the rocks, and this was my best attempt at that


And for a little variation, this is a sunrise shot from the evening before of the seabreak wall that protects the harbour at Oamaru where they moor the boats


I was really pleased with the shots I got, it wasnt the most spectacular sunrise ever, but the light and the colours I did get were pretty, and its a couple hours drive from home, so not somewhere Im going to get to easily πŸ™‚

Was a good learning experience – here is what I got out of it:

– I *really* need to get some waterproof pants – the cliff behind us had slipped and there was clay/mud all over the place, and I was kneeling in it and got filthy
– Gumboots would also be a good idea
– Pack a small pocket torch in my camera backpack to always have handy
– Shooting by yourself with a tripod and an umbrella is damn near impossible – I needed a pole to stick into the ground and clamp the umbrella to it so I could still have rain protection but have my hands free
– Remember the details when shooting HDR
– Take a change of clothes WITH YOU IN THE CAR – I had spare clothes but left them in the motel room – when you are cold and wet and muddy and half an hour from home, thats suboptimal πŸ™‚

And last of all, I have a wonderful patient friend who was happy to get up with me at 6.45am and make the drive and shoot in the rain, and get mud and sand thru her car – thanks DJ πŸ™‚


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
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2 Responses to My first ever Sunrise Shoot at Moeraki Boulders

  1. wirehunt says:

    Good write up Rose along with some nice photo’s.

    Gumboots don’t work so well in sand. Better to just have some dry clothes with you and bit the bullet on getting very wet πŸ˜‰

  2. forkboy says:

    I love this story. It sounds so familiar… the concerns about missing the shot. The missing something. The broken thing. The mud!

    But in the end it all worked out and we photographers are always grateful for that.

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