St Monans is a beautiful village on the East Neuk coast in Fife. There are some great views across the Firth of Forth to be had as well, with North Berwick and the Bass Rock prominently visible (weather permitting of course!). But what makes St Monans such an attraction for photographers is the breakwater. Well hidden behind the harbour, one needs to climb an old iron ladder to get onto the harbour wall. Only then the interestingly shaped breakwater can be seen. Why was it built using a zig-zag pattern? I don’t know. But it sure makes for an interesting location.
I finally paid St Monans a visit some weeks ago. The forecast looked promising, and the sun would rise at a great angle, almost perpendicular to the breakwater. And luckily waking up at crazy-o’clock (4 AM) did not turn out to be a great disappointment.
The first photograph was taken before sunrise, and the colours were not spectacular yet, so I though a mono conversion would suit this one better.
Black and white conversion of the St Monans breakwater before sunrise
While waiting for sunrise, I decided to explore other compositions and vantage points. Options for alternative compositions are a bit limited, as moving to the left of the breakwater would lead to guaranteed wet clothes and equipment, as the swell was actually quite strong. Moving the right was the only viable option.
Breakwater at the East Neuk harbour of St Monans during the blue hour at dawn
The next photographs were taken just after sunrise at St Monans. Actually, the sun rose during the first long exposure of around 5 minutes. The light was changing very rapidly, but quality was always very pleasing. This made selecting the best photographs really difficult.
Long exposure of the breakwater at St Monans taken around sunrise
St Monans breakwater at sunrise with the tide coming in rapidly
And last, a photograph in portrait orientation. I had taken a few more earlier on, but for unknown reason, they turned out soft. Ah well. The sun disappeared behind thick clouds during this photograph, leading to cooler tones and less dramatic light.
Breakwater in Fife at high tide after the sun disappeared behind a cloud.
I had made a deliberate attempt to use faster shutter speeds (1-2s) as well as long exposures, to capture the force of the waves hitting the breakwater. Unfortunately, despite taking 20 identical compositions, I was unlucky and the waves never hit the breakwater the way I wanted. Maybe next time?
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Can I ask what lens and focal distance you used to take your beautiful photos. Also were you standing on the sea wall or crouched down. The photos have a high viewpoint which I find extremely pleasing.
Hi Thomas, thanks for stopping by. The photos were taken with a 17-40L on full frame. I was probably crouching on the wall as I usually don’t extend the tripod legs much.