Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

The Changing Light

Sunrise is one of the things that many people who are not photographers often miss. Even though I frequently do take the opportunity to get up to photograph the rising sun, I still am almost always amazed at how quickly the color, intensity, and quality of light can change at this time of day. These changes are some of the aspects of light that are often missed by folks who are not photography oriented, either because they aren't awake for sunrise or don't pay as much attention to the nuances of light.

Several posts back, I wrote about a recent family vacation I took in Florida, at Sanibel Island. On a few of those days I got up early to photograph the sunrise. Here, in Western Pennsylvania, we often don't get a good view of the horizon because of the rather hilly terrain. On Sanibel, there was horizon visible all around. Being able to see the actual horizon so easily made the changing quality of the morning light even more evident. Because you could see so far 'out', the changes seemed to occur much more rapidly than I had ever appreciated here at home. It was truly an amazing, almost surreal experience.

As I was looking through some of those images, I recognized two that really brought this point home, as they were of the same subject and taken only about 20 minutes apart, and yet the difference in the quality of light is startling:

Driftwood I
Sanibel Island, Florida
Copyright Howard Grill

Driftwood II
Sanibel Island, Florida
Copyright Howard Grill

Though I personally prefer the first image, partly because of the color of the light and partly because I like the way the slower shutter speed smoothed the water, I feel they each have their own special feel and appeal.

I should also add that I wonder if the image would look 'tidier' or better composed if the upper branch of the driftwood that breaks through the horizon line were cloned out. From a compositional standpoint, and without arguing about whether that type of cloning should be done, what do you think?

At any rate, one thing is clear. Among the highlights of photographing is the chance to be awake to see, experience, and appreciate spectacles like this. Hard to believe that it happens most mornings!