When I tried to think of an opening for this blog post, all I kept thinking was the opening lines to a Supertramp song
It was an early morning yesterday
I was up before the dawn…
I decided to wake up and go see the sunrise from a spot that I had identified at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. I identified this spot much earlier this year and forgot that the sun rises much farther north as we get to June. So I was planning to see a beautiful sunrise over the ridge with the trail leading up to it, but the sun and all the beauty was to the north. In the picture below, you can see the ridge and perhaps make out the trail in the right side of the image and see the sun rise on the far left. I would have shot this much more zoomed in to get the trail but I wanted you to see where the sun actually rose.
If I had bothered to check my Photopills app, I would have known this. In the images below you can see the sunrise direction indicated by the yellow vector in January on the left compared to yesterday on the right. What a difference 4 months makes.
I guess I will have to plan the shot I wanted for the late fall or winter, but I tried to see what I could get anyway. It was not a bad sunrise. Not the massive beautiful watercolor art that I had imagined, but the high clouds gathered a little color. Below is an HDR merge of several images to get a little color in the grass to make it look more like what I saw. I did enjoy the color through the big tree to the left.
I edited these photos listening to the soundtrack from Dance with Wolves; one of my favorite movies which is set in the old West. The music really set the mood for these pictures for me, thinking about the frontier before it became interstates and power lines.
Below is another photo. I like this because it does show the trail coming across the picture and continuing into the distance on the far right.
The above is another HDR merge shot at 14mm to get a really wide landscape and skyscape. I find that the HDR merge results in the grass looking a little to the magenta side and I have to put a filter over the grass and adjust the tint towards green. Or maybe the magenta was really there from the sunrise in the sky, but my eyes just translated it as green. People don’t really see like cameras do.
If you are interested, my process for capturing the images is very manual. With the camera on a tripod and set to manual, I frame up what I want and set focus. I then dial the shutter speed to a very dark frame, take a picture using a remote control, then quickly dial the shutter a stop, take another picture, and keep repeating this until I have a very bright frame. I try to do this as fast as I can to avoid motion blur in the clouds. Then I just import them into Lightroom and do a basic HDR merge and start editing the final image. This is all necessary because cameras just can’t capture the full range of dark to light in the scene like our eyes can so I needed multiple exposures to capture different parts of the scene.
When the sunrise was through changing colors, I went back to the car, lightened my load and went for a morning hike. This early, I was the only one around, but by the time I left around 8:45AM, the parking lot was filling up. But those guys all missed the sunrise. I always find the sunrise comforting.
I saw a firewheel that I couldn’t resist, just catching the first of the morning light before the rest of the grass did. I may have added to the vignette a little in post to enhance the effect.
I continued my hike and had the trails mostly to myself.
I got home a little after nine and enjoyed my coffee.
As an aside, I have been using the new WordPress editor to write the last few posts. It is better in some ways than the old one, but kind of frustrating in others. I seem to have better control over where pictures go, but the text breaking into a new block with each paragraph takes some getting used to. If find the right hand panel to be layed out in a much more confusing way. Just my two cents.
Thanks for reading.