Sunrise Road

Sunrise Road
Pentax 645z with 80-160mm f/4.5 at ISO 560
160mm focal length. 1/500 sec and f/16


Two of the magic ingredients needed for strong landscape images are interesting light and strong atmospherics. Add a good foreground and you almost can't lose.

I was chasing the light, driving along a dirt road in farmland, watching the sun rise through the morning mist. But mile after mile there was nothing but tall corn plants. Nothing to complete the image.

Then, when I felt that the sun was rising too high, and the mist dissipating too quickly, I came to a crossroads and saw the scene as reproduced above.

I had the Pentax 645z on the seat beside me, with 80-160mm zoom attached, and I was so afraid that the conditions would deteriorate before I could get out of the car and set up my tripod that I shot through the open car window with the car stopped in the middle of the road. (I hadn't seen another car for 40 minutes, so this was a fairly safe thing to do on a country road at dawn).

With a shutter speed of 1/500 sec and a focal length of 160mm I was safe hand holding. F/16 was used to retain as much DOF as needed, and the ISO fell at 560. 

Raw – as shot

I did a couple of test shots to establish the exposure. I wasn't concerned about the sun itself blowing out (this was unavoidable) but wanted to capture both the bright fog glow and keep detail in the shadows, since they would add important "texture" to the image.

Not much work was needed in Lightroom other than to open up the shadows, and a bit of sharpening.

What I will note, parenthetically, is that there was no lens flare. Whether by luck or due to the lens coatings and design, the fact that though I was shooting directly into the sun there was no flare to distract was a bonus.

The shadow area of the image is vital to the composition and visual appeal, especially in a large print. This is where web versions of some pictures can simply fail to convey an image's subtlety or complexity. Here, the delicacy of the  highlight rimming commands as much attention as does the glowing sun itself, but is only visible in a substantial sized print. 


This image and its analysis may be discussed on the LuLa Forum