What an Early Fiery Sunrise Taught Me About Color

Early in the morning, the sun came up and the sky was very blue.

On the first day of August, I awoke before sunrise, though I’m unsure why. I decided to make the most of this unique opportunity and impulsively grabbed my camera and headed out. After all, photography is fun, but photography at 6 in the morning is better. The morning light is quite different from any other light of the day, but photographers rarely have the ability to witness the sunrise due to their late-night post-processing of images and occasional insomnia. This was a special opportunity indeed.

Luminous Beam

This time I headed back down to where I photographed some rainbow rocks in the year prior. The colorful pebbles by the river were still there, experiencing no passage of time by the narrow river that snaked through the forest. As I arrived, the sun was just beginning to peek over the treetops in the distance, and I knew a celebration of light was about to begin. If you think about it, a sunrise possesses an ironic duality. Visually, a sunrise is a celebration of light, but it can occur in a perfect inaudible vacuum — in perfect stillness. This morning was one such morning.

As I walked out onto the small pier, I was surrounded by a quiet stillness.

The golden orb of the sun began to rise over the mist that hung over the water, creating a dreamlike sensation in the air. The water played and frolicked with the light, and both seemed happy to witness the sun giving birth to yet another day. The water was so still that it created a perfect mirror. Above this mirror, the fiery sunrise haloed some strangely-shaped clouds in an electric orange light, giving them an otherworldly quality. I called them venus clouds.

And then, just as quickly as it began, the #MagicHour of sunrise was complete.

Color is Power

Luminous Clouds

That August sunrise taught me a lesson about color. I learned to never underestimate the raw power of color. Color is visual energy capable of arousing intense emotion, and what color you choose to portray has an effect on what emotion is aroused. Instead of relating the exact true color of this sunrise, I decided to express the feeling of this sunrise instead. For this photo shoot, I shifted the colors on many of the photos toward a magenta hue and some were ever-so-slightly shifted toward an orange hue. By harnessing the power of color, these photos are much more visually compelling than their originals, and I hope you enjoy them.

Each of these photos captures just a tiny fraction of a moment in time, but a moment is all the time you need to capture the essence of a feeling.

Photos from this trip are in this album. All photos can be used as widescreen desktop wallpapers because they are high resolution (1920×1440).

Free Up your Conscious Mind for Photography

A few weeks ago, I took a walk down to a boat landing I haven’t photographed before, and although I went down there without any real plan, I ended up learning a lot more about the nuances of how my camera lens works.

When I arrived, I decided to experiment with a shallow depth of field, which, if you don’t know, is an effect created by the camera when only objects a certain distance away are in focus and everything nearer or farther than that distance is blurred in varying degrees. A good example of this is the Mossy Log Squirms out of Focus photo.

Zoom to get a shallow Depth of Field

I had known for years that a wide aperture, something like 2.8f, is necessary to get a shallow depth of field, but I’d never specifically tried to blur out the background with my FujiFilm S6000fd before. (Which in the year since I’ve bought it has been replaced by a much-improved model. Such are the ways of technology.) 😉

Violet Flower

When I first tried creating a shallow depth of field the camera lens was just too good at keeping everything in focus! Hmm. So I tried twisting the manual zoom just a bit and sure enough that shortened the depth of field enough to be noticeable. By zooming in just a bit and manually focusing on the intended object, I was able to isolate any object I wanted, such as in the violet flower pictures.

Try Chroma Color

If the color in these photos seems richer than previous excursions it’s because I also experimented with the color processor and had it set to Chroma for most of the day, which produces richer color than normal. In some situations, such as indoor situations, this can create an unrealistic effect, but outside it actually heightens the realism. I encourage you to try it out in your own camera and see if you like the results. Many cameras have a heightened color setting, sometimes called Chroma, usually next to the black and white setting. Just be careful to avoid having your pictures look too saturated like cartoons. Contrary to what you may believe, Daffy is not in your backyard waiting to be photographed.

Free Your Conscious Mind

Nostalgic Reflections

Once I had the basic technique down, I began to really play around and have fun with the lens. As I get more experience in photography, I realize more and more that the key to capturing the essence of life is being spontaneous and playful. Once you no longer have to think about the camera’s functions consciously, it frees up your conscious mind to work really quickly and intuitively, and sometimes you don’t even remember taking certain pictures. For instance, I can’t remember what I was thinking when I took Nostalgic Summer Reflections (on the right), but it captured the essence of that day’s walk — and it’s one of my favorite of the bunch. Not to mention it makes a dream-like desktop wallpaper.

What about you? Does your camera require you to zoom a bit before you can achieve a shallow depth of field?

Have you freed up your conscious mind to be spontaneous lately?

Photos from this trip are in this album. All photos in Byteful Photos can be used as desktop wallpapers because they are high resolution (1920×1440) just as the fullscreen & widescreen wallpapers are.