Three Reasons why I Love to Photograph Cloudy Sunrises

ONE: Color, color, color!

When you get high cloud cover at sunrise, that’s pretty much the recipe for brilliant hues of pink and orange, not just in the sky, but spread all over the landscape – the water, the Opera House, people’s upturned faces.

Sunrise Paddle Friday Oct 6 2017


Sunrise Paddle Sunday Oct 8 2017


TWO: Drama, and texture

Clouds add a layer of depth to the landscape. Those billowing, menacing shapes are mesmerizing to behold.

And you never know what they can yield. Lightning (though hopefully, not while you’re out on the water), or rainbows.


THREE: Giant reflectors

Even on days where the clouds are so low and voluminous that they block out the sun, they help accentuate the landscape or subject matter, by acting as gigantic reflectors.

Sunrise Paddle Saturday Oct 7 2017


Sunrise Paddle Monday Oct 9 2017

Epic Sunrise on the Harbor Front

As a paddler and photographer, I live for beautiful sunrises out on the water. And once in a long, long while, the clouds align at sunrise and the sky just bursts into vivid colors of brilliant pink and orange. Friday was one such morning. As our group of paddlers with Sydney by Kayak pushed off the little beach on Lavender Bay towards the Harbor Bridge, we could see the Opera House catch the beginning rays of golden light.

In mere moments, the colors spread to the rest of the landscape. I was laughing in delight as I exhorted the kayakers to quickly take their positions in front of the opera house, because photographic gifts like that just have to be taken advantage of.

All too soon, the sun disappeared behind the clouds again, and it seemed almost inconceivable that we’d enjoyed such a stunning display. The rest of the day was shrouded in thick, low hanging grey clouds, but for the few of us who were out there at dawn, it was a beautiful day. 🙂

Sunrise Paddling in Spring

It’s been a fun past week of morning sunrises! The weather has been all over the place. Just earlier this week, we were shivering in 10 degrees; this morning, it was hot and humid at a very unseasonable 29 degrees. Not complaining though, it still felt glorious to be out on the harbor, enjoying the view.

Sydney by Kayak’s sunrise paddle tour was recently featured in Time Out too – very exciting stuff! It’ll also be in the print October issue, though I have no idea where to buy print copies. :/

Here are a couple recent sunrises where we popped underneath the Harbor Bridge to get closer to the Opera House. 🙂


Sunday Sunrise Paddle

Sunday morning – no clouds on the horizon, but the water was nice and glassy. Another beautiful and leisurely morning out on the water. It also marked the first day of our partnership with Sydney by Kayak!

Over the next few months, through the end of summer, ptanPhoto will be on hand on SBK’s Sunrise Kayak & Coffee tours, taking photos that paddlers can purchase as keepsake. Super pumped: more chances to be out on enjoying the early morning light and the peaceful gorgeous Sydney Harbor before the ferry boats churn up the water!

Sunrise paddle with Sydney by Kayak

Birthday Sunrise Paddle

We joined Sydney by Kayak for a sunrise paddle today. It’s been months since we went out with Laura; it was still summer the last time we did so, for kayak netball. She’s gotten brand new kayaks now, all bold and cheerful colors, with cut-out glass bottoms and coffee holders!

Not much cloud cover – but the water was really nice and glassy, which was awesome for quietly drinking in the pastel sunrise, and our coffees. Adding to our wonder, was the seal playing by Blues Point, although it’d pop right back underwater as soon as we raised our cameras!

Birthday boy Jeff enjoying an early start to his morning. And Laura, bless her heart, baked muffins as a birthday surprise. She even managed to light candles in her boat!

Beautiful way to kick off spring. 🙂 And after packing up the kayaks and heading home for a quick breakfast of champions, we rounded off the morning with a long swim from Manly to Shelly and back. The dozens of baby dusky whaler sharks that we’d seen circling the waters earlier in winter had now graduated into the open waters, but in their place we spied Port Jackson sharks and a couple of Guitar sharks. Super cool stuff!

Sunrise paddling with Sydney by Kayak

Last week, I went out for a sunrise and coffee paddle with Sydney by Kayak, in part to enjoy the sunrise over the Sydney Opera House and Bridge, and in part to take photographs for their marketing efforts.

The last time I went out with Sydney by Kayak to take photographs for them, we didn’t see any sun at all thanks to complete cloud cover. This time, we had ZERO clouds. Oh well. You can never win.

Sunrise paddle with Sydney by Kayak

But the company and coffee was good, and we got to compare boat sizes with the P&O cruise ship that came into the harbor.


Sydney by Kayak, a sunrise paddle

Woke up really early this morning, with the idea to take a bunch of pictures for Sydney by Kayak‘s Sunrise Paddle. Alas, it was completely overcast. Not a hint of orange in the sky to be found. Still, it was an enjoyable morning out on the calm, glassy waters.