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?