Mrs H and I went out this morning to shoot photos as part of the @4amproject (blog | twitter). Our original destination was Cardiff, but it was so busy with staggering drunks that instead we headed off to the quieter location of Penarth and its pier.

The Photos

Steps Up Off The Beach

To try and cut down on the amount of light from the street lights, I headed down onto the beach itself where it was much darker. Whilst I was waiting for Mrs H to finish using the remote cable release, I turned my camera around to take this shot looking up the stairs back to street level.

Looking Across The Bristol Channel

Turning the camera around the other way, the English coast across the Bristol Channel was lit up by the tobacco stain of street lights both near and far. With it being almost low tide, I managed to get some great reflective effects in the wet sand out towards the estuary.

Penarth Pier

This is what we came to photograph. Penarth Pier at 4am, lighting up the sands below as it juts out into the Bristol Channel.

This is Mrs H’s shot of the beach with Penarth Pier beyond.

Mrs H’s shot of the promenade at Penarth, looking east towards the pier.

Mrs H’s shot across the sands towards the lights of the English coast.

Mrs H went down onto the pebble beach for this one, using the foreground to add detail and a focal point to her second shot across the Bristol Channel.

Thoughts On The Day

I’d come across the 4am project by accident on Twitter, and although I’m about as far from being a morning person as you can get, I liked the idea of trying to take photos at a time of day that I normally don’t even see, never mind shoot at. With the cats giving us very strange looks, we grabbed our gear and headed out towards Cardiff to find somewhere interesting to photograph.

Our first choice was the Hayes in Cardiff, but at 4am on Easter Sunday it was just far too busy to do any photography. The city centre was teeming with parties of people and supervising police; after a bit of discussion we decided to go and find somewhere quieter, and Penarth and its pier seemed much more likely to be nice and quiet.

We were very lucky with the weather: nice and dry, and not too cold.

This was our first time out with the wireless remote cable release I bought in Bath on Thursday, and although it’s really great that both of us can share the same cable release, in practice when you’re doing 4 minute exposures, you need your own cable release. Oh, and wireless cable releases are well worth the extra that they cost 🙂

Our first time out doing early morning photography was a lot of fun, and is something we’ll be doing more of this year.

Post Processing

Other than a little bit of sharpening, and a bit of cropping and bringing out of the detail in the shadows on the Penarth Pier shot, I haven’t processed my photos at all. Which made me think … what would these photos look like in black and white?

Steps Up Off The Beach (alternate version)

Looking Across The Bristol Channel (alternate version)

Penarth Pier (alternate version)

Which versions do you prefer?

See Also

If you’d like to know more about the 4am project, check out these links:


If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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