The Making of “The Spit” by David Phillips

The dawn begins to break over the Gold Coast of Australia. As the prominent jetty stretches toward the horizon, flecks of pink and orange reflect from the oncoming December sun. The quiet water and skyline give little indication to the brightness and heat that is only a few moments away.

Technical Specs

  • Location: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  • Camera: Canon EOS-1D X
  • Lens: TS-E24mm f/3.5L II
  • Focal Length: 24.0mm
  • Aperture: f/16
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter Speed: Aperture Priority
  • Focus Mode: Evaluative Metering
  • Tripod Used: Yes
  • Flash Used: No

About the Experience

I was visiting with family in the unbelievably scenic Gold Coast region and felt some inspiration to get out and capture some shots. This was a welcome bit of peaceful solitude compared with all the excitement of theme parks, Christmas shopping, and family parties!

Having faced the blistering hot sands of a midday excursion to this area, the next morning I opted for the early bird role with a 4:30 AM walk to the coastline. Before the sun peaked its head, I was initially delighted by the true symphony of colours in the sky. This awe-inspiring atmosphere was especially accented by how those colours interacted with the lights and the darks produced by the cloud coverage.

Usually, I will shoot in full manual mode, but today I decided to try Aperture Priority Mode for a change. I was very happy with the way the movement in the water was captured. It really adds something soft to contrast against the strong lines of the jetty.

My Thoughts

Part of the magnificence of early morning photography is how you can capture so much of the subtle essences provided by the predawn skies. The dancing of colours produced here is something you won’t see once the sun breaks over the horizon. After that point, the brightness is far too high to capture the subtleness seen in this image.

While it’s certainly a challenge to rise this early, every time I capture an image like this I’m reminded of why I do it. This region is so beautiful, and I wanted to showcase it at a time of transition between night and day that most people don’t typically see.

I have been luckily enough to win the following awards for this image:

Silver Award – Epson Int Pano Awards in 2013

Champion Colour Print – Mackay Show 2015

1st in Open Section – Mackay Show 2015


I am a lover of bright colours and this is one of my very favourite images, I hope you enjoy it too.


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