Daybreak with an engineer at Blackrock


Thirty minutes before dawn at Blackrock , Port Skewett I was busily setting up my camera kit with my good friend Paul Joy. The sky on the eastern horizon was looking an awesome orange colour and there was a big high tide. Looking out across the waters of the Severn rushing in up river I had the unnerving feeling in my stomach of both excitement and dread. I think the power of all that water made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

It was looking good for a nice sunrise. There was some cloud starting to sweep in and that would help to make some better photographs as I think clouds always add some atmosphere to the photographs and the rising sun often causes them to turn some amazing colours and create a bit of magic.

Once I had set up my tripod and mounted my camera I had a little time to play around with a new project of mine. I am experimenting with Intentional Camera Movement ( ICM) photography. This style swings quite heavily to the arty side of photography in my opinion but it can produce some amazing images. My inspiration was Bill Ward who is big in the ICM scene and after watching a recent presentation of his he gave me some impetus to try it out myself.

My first image of the day and featured in this blog post was an ICM . The picture was taken using the technique of setting a long exposure and then moving the camera lens up and down ever so slightly. The process is a little bit trial and error and so the results can be mixed, but sometimes things work out pretty good.

In this case the statue of the famous engineer Thomas A. Walker who was responsible for completing the Severn Tunnel made a great subject for ICM. The image has turned the statue translucent and created a ghostly affect that blends all the components of the image together creating a transition effect.

There was very little wind at Blackrock, so I took advantage of the fair weather and prepared my drone for a few flights. I set up  my DJI Air 2S drone near to the old slipway that people used to catch the ferry from.

During my first flight I wanted to try and get a big panoramic image that had both of the bridges in vue.

It remained quite dark and off went my drone with its lights twinkling in the half light. At about twenty minutes before sunrise I was able to obtain the image below. A very wide panoramic with the First Severn Crossing and the Prince of Wales Bridge. There is an element of distortion but I am quite happy with how it eventually came out. I love the purple, night blue and black colours that make a lovely contrast against the orange glow on the eastern horizon.

My second flight was about ten minutes before sunrise. On this occasion I wanted to some images of the lighthouse that is located on Charston Rock.  The drone headed out over the estuary between the bridges and I manoeuvred it into position.

The tide was in full flow and the power of it is incredible as it flows around anything in its path. At this time I had to keep my eye on my watch as the sun was now due up at any time.

The sunrise did not disappoint in the slightest. I love how the sun light suddenly burns its way across sky and landscape illuminating the darkness and painting the scene with vibrant bright colours.

Once again I tried a panoramic that would pull together the breaking sun on the horizon and the two bridges.

This image is massively wide. The distortion is quite low but the join is not as perfect as I would like. However I think big picture landscapes are often best looked standing back a bit and on this level I think the image works quite well.

My last drone flight of the morning involved taking a look in the opposite direction towards the West and Sudbrook.

In may places now on the Gwent Levels there are Solar Farms springing up. The good and bad of these causing quite a lot of discussion and arguments for that matter.

My last picture is of my friend Paul and his attempt at trying to take off like a drone. I think he is going to need to flap those arms quicker if he is going to fly like a bird.


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