This rock, called by the locals Dragon's Head Rock, has been on my mind for a while and when we were able to visit Mornington Peninsula in Victoria this year, it was one of my priorities to photograph. It almost did not happen as this spot can only be accessed around the low tide times of the day, preferably while the tide is still outgoing.
Unfortunately the highest tides were right around sunrise and sunset so that precluded any blue/golden photography. This left me with a couple of midday opportunities, if the conditions were right. On the first attempt, the sky was beautifully blue for holiday makers but a bit boring for photographers. The swell was also quite high as a big storm passed over the region recently and I had to pack up and return the next day.
The conditions were much better this time around with a good cloud cover and excellent swell that was just right for a long exposure that I had in mind. I was looking for the water to wash over the edge of the rocky shelf around the main subject. Composition wise it was a little tricky and this is why the conditions had to be just right. To get the angle, where the rock actually looks like a dragon's head, one has to venture out about 25 metres onto the rocky shelf and into the sea. From other angles it just looks like any other generic rock and when the tide is high the rock is often covered completely by the sea.
I wanted to use the sweeping edge of the shelf as a leading line to follow through the scene towards the rock. I liked the texture in the foreground but I did not want it to be too sharp and take the attention away from the main area of interest. The moving water made it blurry enough for what I envisioned. I was also using a polariser and I turned it just enough to cut a bit of the glare and reflection from the water surface without making the foreground completely dark either.
The sea was still very rough out past the rock shelf and I had to be on a look out for any rouge waves but luckily none of them strayed towards my location. It is amazing how easy it is to loose oneself in the photographic process. Time flies by, especially when shooting long exposures, and I was just waiting for another one to end when I realised that the water level was noticeably higher. I had a look at a couple of people fishing nearby, we nodded to each other in understanding that it was time to move back onto safer ground and thus ended my first dragon "adventure". I hope one day we will be able to return here again when the tides are low at dawn and at dusk.
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