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The final day of 2021 and I was staying with my daughter at Mt Maunganui - a well known surf beach. I woke around 4.30am as it's summer in New Zealand and drove to the beach. Because the sky was heavy with cloud and the tide was about an hour from high tide, I decided to focus on trying to capture the waves moving across the rocks at the side of the beach. The cloud was beginning to break up as the sky lightened, so I set up a low tripod and attached 2 filters to the front - a reverse graduated filter to deal with the sun on the horizon and a 6ND filter to slow the movement of the water.
As the sun rose and turned everything a golden colour I kept shooting the movement of the waves over the rocks. After I'd captured several frames I liked and the sun had risen higher in the sky, I decided it was time to head home. Out of habit, I scanned my surroundings and to my delight saw that the cloud had broken and that golden rays were streaming down immediately above Motuotau - a small island just off-shore. I swung my camera round, changed the exposure slightly and started snapping away. I removed the reverse grad filter, but kept the ND filter in place in an attempt to capture the movement of the waves passing the island. I took a number of images until I was happy with the location of the wave. This is one of my favourite images of all times, and I doubt I'll ever capture anything like it again.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor