Sunday at Dawn

It was Sunday morning and it was to be a bit cool and partly cloudy and I really needed to get out and shoot a few photos. So, Saturday night I set my mental alarm clock for 5:45 AM and sure enough, my eyes popped open 5:42 AM according to my bedside clock. I don’t know how or why this works. Anyway, I got dressed and drove downtown. The sun was scheduled to rise at 7:39 AM and I had a place in mind down on the banks of Lady Bird Lake.

When I got downtown I found that Riverside Dr was closed, so I had to scout around for somewhere else to park, but I eventually made it to my spot in plenty of time. I set up on some steps down by the water, listened to some ducks and watched the sky.

I took a few pictures in the twilight to try to get some reflections of the Austin skyline in the lake. When I arrived, the lake was not smooth, but there was a few minutes when it all smoothed out and I took a nice photo. In the image below you can see the Austin Central Library across the lake lit up in blue. A few minutes later a bunch of rowers went by and messed up my mirror.

Downtown Austin Texas in the predawn twilight
Downtown Austin Texas in the predawn twilight

The above photo was shot with a Nikon D750 and 16-35mm, f/4 lens. The settings were 16mm, f/8, 15s, ISO100. It was still dark enough that I could do long exposures without any filters on the lens. 15 seconds was enough to smooth out the water nicely. I am not crazy about the big old cement building in front of the library, but they won’t move it for me. I do get most of downtown from this vantage point down on the water. The camera is sitting about 18 inches above the water in this photo.

I sat at this location in the cold for about 40 minutes waiting for some color in the sky. I think that there was a large ridge of clouds in the East blocking the light. The image below was taken a few minutes before sunrise. You can see that there wasn’t any color in the sky. After this, I decided to go to a different location.

Downtown Austin Texas at dawn
Downtown Austin Texas at dawn

I hiked up to a little hill that overlooks downtown. I think it is called Doug Sahm hill and I often see people taking wedding photos up here at sunrise. With the road blocked off, I noticed that there wasn’t anyone up there so I would have a clean shot of downtown. I had taken a few photos here before, but I was not satisfied with them and I thought that I could do a better job.

I changed to a 14mm lens to get as wide a shot as possible as I wanted to include the entire Texas compass rose in the foreground with downtown in the background. By the time I got set up, the sun was rising just beyond downtown adding some color to the horizon. The photo below shows the Texas compass rose and allows you to confirm that the sun does in fact rise in the East. There was a grackle that insisted on being on the photo as well.

Downtown Austin at sunrise from Doug Sahm Hill
Downtown Austin at sunrise from Doug Sahm Hill

This was the composition that I wanted, with the compass rose centered in the foreground. The sky is ok, could be better. I shot this with a Nikon D750 and a Rokinon 14mm, f/2.4 lens set to 14mm, f/18, 1/6s, ISO100. I didn’t notice at the time that I was stopped all the way down to f/18. There is such large focus depth shooting this wide and focused on the distance that I could have shot at a much wider aperture.

That was my Sunday morning downtown. It was nice to get out and shoot photos. Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “Sunday at Dawn

    1. I have to admit I did a little bit of split toning in Lightroom to warm up the highlights and cool down the shadows. It gives the city a nice effect, I think.

      Not sure how I feel about the power lines. I make these go away, but they are also kind of an interesting set of lines. And they are what is really there. There is an old power station on the opposite side of the lake from where I took the photo.

      The library looks colored in post, but it is really lit up like that.

      Thanks for the comment.


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