Saturday, March 31, 2012

There is always something new to learn

Sunrise Bell by J. Binford-Bell

I have recently stepped up my collection of tech toys. Once a computer and a camera was enough. The big advantage of my newest toy, the Tab, is I get to carry along with my books on photography to read when killing time. As a result I have been learning some of the do's and don't's of good photography. And true to form questioning a few.

One that I am currently researching is the golden rule landscape photography: Only take a landscape picture within 30 minutes either side of dawn or dusk.

I assume the person writing this rule lives on the prairie or the open sea. I live in a valley surrounded by mountains. This morning I stared at the mountain behind where the sun rises this time of year and watched the sky grow light for over an hour. Still no sun. Valley still in shadow. And once the sun does pop over the whole area is drenched in light. Bright light! The bell picture above was taken at 8 a.m. From the shadows you can tell the sun is still low on the horizon. The sun had just finally made it down the wall to the bell. Sunrise was about 6:50 per the chart. It had not popped over the mountain this morning at 7:30. Obviously I need to define sunrise: a) the time in the morning when the sun first appears or full sunlight arrives, b) the colors and light visible in the sky upon the sun's first appearance in the morning, considered as a view or spectacle.

Sunset at Arches

The above picture taken at Arches National Park clearly shows the line of dark vs light in the process of the sun setting across a western landscape but the sun was still above the horizon. It had not yet turned the clouds red and pink, etc. It was probably in that last hour of good photography before the world goes dark. And that can happen really quickly in the west.

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon by J. Binford-Bell

The canyon rim is in light, the canyon bottom is in the dark still. My sister and I spent more than two hours photographing what my digital photography book calls a narrow one hour window. So my question is sunrise where? Top or Bottom? Here or there?

Sunrise by J. Binford-Bell

So I have the calendar with all the sunrise and sunset times if my world was flat. It is not. This morning I walked a path I had taken often with a camera but without one. I wanted to record in my mind and not in pixels which hills got light first and which trees reached into the first rays. I noticed things I had not seen as I walked the same route with a camera from one Kodak photo opportunity to the next.

The book talks about not taking the "Walk Up" photo. Or don't set your tripod in the first available spot. I found this morning there is something to be said for not taking the camera also. I recorded spots I want to go back to with the camera and the tripod.

This afternoon I am going to Raton. It is a trip I take often but usually in the morning. This trip is going to be in the afternoon. The same landscape can look very different depending on the time of day. And I will easily admit that at high noon it is flat and boring. UNLESS, teachers used to hate me, there are fantastic clouds building over the mountains! BTW that usually happens here in the heat of the day.

Thunderstorm over Eagle Nest Lake by J. Binford-Bell

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