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 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.