And so, we reach the last Ancient Lore post of the year, and coincidentally we’ve finished our third pass through the folders, ending here with Sunrise/Sunset. “But wait, Al,” you say sharply, “you’ve been doing this weekly; shouldn’t this be number 52? Or somewhere in that general vicinity?” Which is pretty cool how you talk in URLs like that. Except that I started late in March, because I took my own sweet time trying to decide what to do as a weekly feature.
This is from March 2006, and I was now using the Canon Pro90 IS, my first digital camera – nothing exciting, but it had some cool uses. The aforementioned Jim Kramer and I had taken a trip to the Outer Banks strictly for photography, which is where I nearly lost my life to a treacherous quicksand trap. Or something. But that was yet to come – later this same day, in fact. At sunrise we were out by Bodie Island lighthouse, where the sky was resolutely uncooperative and almost totally without clouds, which doesn’t make for the most dramatic of sunrises. Nonetheless, we still got a hint of sunrise color, which can be seen by the faint yellow color cast on the lighthouse itself and the pinkish clouds. I have also used this image to demonstrate how light is tinted differently depending on conditions, because looking at the foreground boardwalk shows a blue cast that’s typical of open shade and hazy days; the reds and yellows scatter first and don’t bounce into the shadows, but the blues do.
In looking at the EXIF info, I find that I shot this on Auto White Balance, a poor move to retain the sunrise colors because the camera will often notice the color cast and try to correct it towards neutral. Yet this actually looks fairly accurate, or as near as I can recall about the conditions anyway. I suspect this is because there are enough shadowed portions in the lower region of the frame and they balanced out the sunlit portions with an opposing color cast.
It’s also easy to do a little color tweak and make some more dramatic colors without looking unrealistic at all – except that I know there was too little humidity, and too few clouds, to produce this. [Yes, it’s really been altered slightly – look closely at the grasses if it helps.] And it’s easy to get into the whole debate about what’s appropriate when it comes to editing, and a lot of it may depend on usage; artistically, you could paint a picture in any damn color you wanted, so is there any big deal when producing an art photo print? While for photojournalistic purposes and some contests, the practice is frowned upon.
This boardwalk, by the way, no longer exists, having been replaced with a larger and better one. So one day this image will be immensely valuable for its historic record, I’m sure. Because, you know, no one else ever took any photos from this perspective…