Sunrise and artistic vision

Joanna and I agree that colorful sunrises and sunsets have been in short supply this year, and so it was that I took great delight in the dawn of July 6. The Photographer’s Emphemeris tells me that sunrise on that day was at 5:42 AM. The photo below was time-stamped at 5:41 AM and it was the last that I captured before the sun rose above the horizon, putting an end to the beautiful twilight. I had been experimenting with a remote shutter release which allows me to more effectively use the bulb setting on my DSLR. The longest programmed shutter speed on my D600 is 30 seconds; the bulb setting allows me to hold the shutter open indefinitely, allowing for very long exposures. To capture the dim light of dawn I was using exposures as long as two and three minutes. I wonder if the photographers out there know the origin of the word bulb, as it is used in bulb setting? If you ever owned a film SLR you may recall that there was a small, conical, depression in the middle of the shutter release; it was there that you could connect a long, sleeved, cable which allowed you to release the shutter without having to touch, and shake, the camera. At the end of the sleeve there was a plunger which was either attached to a cable which ran through the sleeve and actuated the shutter, or there was a piston at the business end and a bulb which you could squeeze, at the other. This release worked pneumatically such that when you squeezed the bulb the increased pressure in the sleeve would force the piston out to trip the shutter. So, it is the actuator bulb of the remote release to which the bulb in bulb setting refers. So much for photo-trivia. Anyway, as the twilight intensified, the shutter speed required for exposure shortened and the photo below was taken at 1.0 second. Proper exposure in the sky dictated that the hayfield in the foreground be underexposed, and herein lay the beauty of a RAW file. Although I couldn’t see any details in the field when I first viewed this image, I knew that these could be recovered with a selective adjustment to exposure using Lightroom. I’m wondering if the effect looks unnatural to you? Because my pupils responded to the light in the same way the camera did, I did not view the scene as you see it below; although the sky looked alright, everything below the horizon was dark in my field of optical vision. But my artistic vision for this shot called for a juxtaposition of the colors and textures of the sky above with the colors and textures of the ground below. I liked the transitions from blue, in the high sky of twilight, to shades of purple, rusty-ochre, orange, and yellow in the illuminated cloud bottoms. Contrast this with the field; the textured seed heads in shades of golden brown and the more uniform understory of bladed grasses in muted green. I was also aware of a sense of movement, of both sky and field, toward the point-of-focus, the sunrise itself. I don’t know … am I making all of this up? To quote the lyric by Noël Regney, … do you see what I see? I wonder?


18 thoughts on “Sunrise and artistic vision

  1. I love this photo. The contrast in colour, the composition, the crispness. I feel like I am in this field.I wish I could take photos like this.

  2. It is again a very beautiful image – and the way you “uncovered” the field in my opinion also reveals that this is sunrise, not sunset. You might not see the field yet in the dark but you expect to be visible soon … and that’s what the image shows explicitly.

  3. I think you improved on what was there! Your instinct was right! The color and texture definitely improves the image. The trees on either side look like they belong in the Tolkein series … a bit ominous! Your shots initiate lots of thought!

  4. Right – I would never have figured the connection back to the wire. Though I did have an SLR back-in-the-day (it was a Ricoh that I bought, used, in 1982 and it still works well but I have not used it in 10 years) I never did have the remote cable, but a friend did and he used it a fair bit for taking portraits. I love how you did this image! If you had not outlined your procedure I would have guessed that you juxtaposed two shots, one taken at twilight and one much later in the day. I’m amazed that the field is not blurry – you’d never get a calm enough early morning in Newfoundland 🙂

    • It’s funny that you should comment on the morning breeze. My first thought was to set a very long exposure to catch the dawn and a sense of movement in the swaying grasses. Alas, it was a fairly quiet morning with little movement in the air! As it worked out, the detail in the grass seems to have worked just as well … although the feel is a bit different. I wish I had a private jet with which to fly up there for a visit. I’ve been searching around sites like 500px and have begun to notice that all of the really nice shots are taken in fairly exotic locations. Central PA fails to impress me as being very exotic any more. I’d like to try some beach-side sunrises and sunsets in your backyard. D

    • Wow … another new name in my comments section! What a delight! Thanks redgladiola for stopping by, viewing, and then taking the time to comment. It’s all really appreciated. As I told christymendy, below, it’s nice to get such quick feedback on a photo, especially when I’m not entirely comfortable with the artistic approach I’ve taken. I’m glad you liked this one. And, you know, it didn’t occur to me that the visual trick of putting the spot where one would expect the rising sun, slightly away from the focal point of the shot … didn’t occur to me. Score one for luck … but I’ll remember the trick … it adds yet another dynamic to the shot. D

    • Whow! A new face in my comments section! Great. Thanks Cristy, for dropping by, viewing, and for taking the time to comment. It’s all very much appreciated … especially when I think I’m kinda ‘out there’ artistically. I’ll be sure to drop by christymendy shortly! D

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