The sun rose perpendicular to the zigzag, leading to wonderfully soft directional light on the breakwater behind the St Monans harbour.

Sunrise at St Monans breakwater

Camillo Berenos Photography Scottish east coast, Trip report 2 Comments

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.


The breakwater at the fishing village of St Monans, Fife. I have a few colour versions of this trip as well, but I thought that the soft light before sunrise was perfect for a black and white conversion.

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.


Blue hour, St Monans breakwater

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.


Jetty at the picturesque harbour of St Monans on the East Neuk coast at sunrise

Long exposure of the breakwater at St Monans taken around sunrise


The sun rose perpendicular to the zigzag, leading to wonderfully soft directional light on the breakwater behind the St Monans harbour.

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.


The breakwater at the old picturesque fishing village St Monans on the East Neuk coast in Fife.

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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Comments 2

  1. 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.

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