January Mornings: the 2020 Edition

In a previous post I explained why early January is such a good time to go out taking photographs at daybreak. There’s no need to set the alarm inhumanely early because the latest (in the sense of the least early) sunrise is around New Year’s Day. And in this time of year sunrise coincides more or less with the morning rush hour, making it easy to adorn the photos with light trails and other special effects.

Also this year I went out a few times early in the morning for a photo expedition through Rotterdam in the blue hour. Unfortunately there was no chance of pretty snow and ice photos, because this seems to become an even lousier winter than last year. The advantage of this is that one’s fingers do not freeze off when working with a camera and tripod.

Tuesday January 7 – Sunrise 8.49 AM

The White House, canal houses and some historic barges reflect in the smooth water of Wijnhaven harbour in Rotterdam on an early morning in January 2020
White House and Wine Harbour

The weather conditions for such an early photo trip are ideal when it is partly cloudy, with a nice variation of clouds and a more or less clear sky on the eastern horizon. Unfortunately, that is hard to asses the evening before, when the decision must be made to set the alarm or not. During the first expedition, the sky was almost cloudless. Luckily there was hardly any wind either, which resulted in nice reflective water surfaces. In the above image of the White House and Wijnhaven harbour I had to Photoshop a white van out. Also in the early morning, these bastards are everywhere.

Friday January 10 – Sunrise 8.47 AM

Pathe cinema with movie posters reflects on the wet surface of Schouwburgplein square in Rotterdam at the break of day
Schouwburgplein

At my second attempt, as a contrast, there were too many clouds. Contrary to what the predictions had promised me, it was overcast and it had even rained shortly before. The latter was a bonus, however, as wet pavements always look good on this type of photo at the edges of the night. On the image above, one segment of my “secret” skyline is visible on the facade of the Pathe cinema on Schouwburgplein.

Monday, January 13 – Sunrise 8.45 AM

Erasmus bridge, the southbank and the Nieuwe Maas river in Rotterdam in the blue hour before sunrise

During the third expedition it was once again overcast and as a result the sunrise was rather colorless. It wasn’t really foggy but the air was a bit damp. And those circumstances provided a nice light effect around the pylon of Erasmus bridge.

Morning rush hour at Kop van Zuid district in Rotterdam, surrounded by modern architecture, during the blue hour on a January morning
Southbank rush hour

And although the colors in the sky were a quite disappointing, the light trails of trams and cars are of course always a rewarding photo subject at this time of the day.

Thursday January 16 – Sunrise 8.43 AM

The shining pot of the Boymans museum collection building under construction in Museum Park in Rotterdam during the blue hour on a morning the the winter of 2020
Shiny bowl under construction

This year it was hard to find the right balance because during the fourth attempt there were hardly any clouds at all. But the dark blue sky with three-quarters of the moon formed a nice background for De Pot. This collection building for the Boymans museum in Museum Park, designed by my esteemed former colleague Winy Maas, is now almost completely fitted with mirrors. They usually reflect the Rotterdam skyline, but it turns out there are weather conditions in which the panels are fogging up which makes the bowl-shaped building shiny but not reflective. And that looks pretty cool as well.

Former cruise ship SS Rotterdam, the eneba grain silo and the Nieuwe Maas river in Rotterdam at sunrise under a beautiful sky with contrails
Contrails over Katendrecht

In the end, the cloudless sky turned out not to be too boring due to the presence of a striking number of aircraft streaks that at dawn formed a beautiful play of lines above the former cruiseship S.S. Rotterdam. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories around those contrails (just Google for chemtrails) but I find the explanation involving condensing ice crystals a tad more plausible.

Monday, January 20 – Sunrise 8.39 AM

The smooth reflecting water of Delftsevaart canal near cafe Dudok, under a sky slowly coloring purple at the break of day
Delftsevaart

On the fifth attempt I finally hit the jackpot. This photo of Delftsevaart canal, near cafe Dudok, shows how the sky slowly turns purple, although that was hardly visible to the naked eye at that time.

Dawn at the Nieuwe Maas river in Rotterdam, with the Maas tower, Noordereiland and a fast moving Waterbus
Waterbus passing by

I hurried down to the Nieuwe Maas. When I arrived there, one of the most spectacular sunrise skies of the year formed a perfect backdrop for the Maas tower, the Noordereiland and the river.

Spectacular sky during sunrise over Erasmus Bridge, the Southbank and the Nieuwe Maas river in Rotterdam on a January morning in 2020

That seemed like a good time to consider the January project completed. Every subsequent sunrise could only be disappointing. And next year there will be a January again.

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