A March Rising

It took me a while to get in sync with the new (and completely unnecessary) time change. It was a week or so before my internal clock recalibrated.  But this morning I woke clear headed long before sunrise, with a sense of momentum, a feeling of movement.

Looking toward the east at the pre-dawn sky, I spotted slightly striated cloud formations. The clouds could hold together and split the first sunlight into warm colors or quickly dissipate into an obscuring mist. There was no way of knowing, but if I put a camera and tripod in the saddlebags, then got on the bike without playing around with a second cup of coffee or checking my email, I could be at a good vantage point near the narrows of the Santa Ana River at sunrise.

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The camera I took was the digital M 4/3 Panasonic Lumix G1. I was being cheap: I’ve been too long between contracts and I hesitate to shoot color film because my finances are getting progressively tighter. When I shoot monochrome film, I don’t worry about the expense too much, because I develop that myself and the chemicals and the film are already paid for. Though I’ve been shooting an increasing amount of black and white film, it is just not the right medium for sunrises.

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One oddity that the G1 has is a result of the EVF: it displays what the sensor “sees”. When I tilt the camera/lens vertically, the amount of light falling on the sensor changes. I secretly call that effect “polarization”, though I don’t know if that is really what is taking place.

I often find the effect annoying, but I decided to take advantage of it this morning. When I pointed the lens downward, it displayed slightly more light falling on the trees in the foreground. It also lightened the sky, giving the photo more of an overall pastel look, rather than the stronger saturation seen by my eye. But a side effect was that the layers of the photo had more definition than if I had held the lens level to the horizon. With the camera/lens level, the trees in the foreground are darkened considerably, becoming deep black silhouettes and the saturation of the sky is quite high.