Insomnia And Your Camera Can Be The Perfect Partners

4am Saturday morning. It's the end of a franticly busy couple of weeks and it's my first day off in a while with no commitments and the first real chance for a sleep in... but I'm wide awake.

No matter what I try and do, sleep is not coming back to me.... 5000 sheep have jumped the garden gate in my head and nothing is happening. The reality is I'm not going to sleep as the jobs and images of the past two weeks are still playing through my mind... my body may have switched off but my brain won't.

You might think at a moment like this it's not the time for someone to pick up their working tools, but for me, grabbing the camera is exactly what I need. It's at times like these I pick up my Pentax medium format 645Z a couple of lenses, a ten stop ND filter and head for the car.

Outside it's a crisp pre-dawn morning, the first morning this year when you can feel winter in the air and the last vestiges of sleep are torn away in one chilly bite.

20 minutes later, the stresses and strains of the previous couple of weeks are fast receding in the rear view mirror. I'm chasing the sunrise to a wailing soundtrack of guitars and vocals. Eric Clapton, Blue Oyster Cult, Jimi Hendrix and a host of others are blasting out of the wonderful Bang Olufsen sound system in my Audi to a backing track of a purring V6 engine. I no longer care about sleeping, I'm wide awake with a road trip wide grin on my face.

Watching the crescent moon fade and the deep black of the sky slowly change to an indigo blue I pull off the highway at Currumbin at the tail end of the Gold Coast with just 20 minutes to spare before sunrise.

It's perfect, a cloudless sky, fishermen creating silhouettes on the rocks and as the yellow and orange hues start to creep over the ocean horizon heralding the rise of the sun I'm set up on the beach, Pentax tripodded and waiting for the day to begin in earnest.

For me this is the ultimate relaxation. The waiting moments that come with landscape photography, the calm and peace of studying the sky and colours and light waiting for the right moment to press the shutter. It's such a trance like contrast to the invariably fast paced photography that fills my working days, particularly when working with the Pentax. It is an amazing camera but one that demands that you take your time and think things through to get the best out of it. I'm using a ten stop ND filter to slow the exposures down and mist up the crashing waves taking my shutter speeds over the five minute mark, again slowing down the photographic process and making me take my time. As a consequence, heart beat and mind slow as well and finally for the first time in a while, with the chill sea breeze, the crashing waves and the sun finally coming over the horizon, I start to relax. 

Ten exposures later that's it... the day has begun the sun is up. It's time for a trip to a nearby Surf Life Savers Club for a steaming cup of coffee or three and a decent breakfast.

On the way back home the sound track changes... Lene Marlin, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars take over where Clapton and Hendrix left off. At home a little bit of time is spent processing up the pictures then an easy dinner and finally the mind has switched off and a night of wonderful, restful sleep begins.