Peaceful Sunrise

Peaceful Sunrise

Sunrise light is reflected in the waters of the James River rendered smooth by a 2-minute exposure.

I took advantage of a trip down to Richmond to deliver some prints (more on that in a future post) and arrived early enough for a sunrise shoot at my favorite Virginia location: the James River.

I was hoping for a foggy morning, but the temperature was about 10 degrees too warm to cause any appreciable mist to form over the river. Instead, I wandered around looking for a scene that might come together nicely with a long exposure. In the image above, the current of the river is smoothed out by a 2-minute long exposure. In closeup, some of the grass stems are blurry due to the motion of the water, but not nearly as many as I would have thought.

The color on the water comes from the reflection of the pink glow in some clouds overhead caused by the sunrise. I intentionally chose to not shoot the scene to include the clouds, deciding to create a more intimate landscape which took advantage of the color effect on the water, rather than create a grand landscape which included the clouds.

We experience life in a manner similar to how a movie is recorded: as a series brief frozen moments that join together to form a continuous moving scene. You glance briefly to one side to note an object lying on a desk as you walk by, followed by shifting your awareness in front of you as you walk through a doorway, etc., etc. Each glance is like a still frame from the movie that is reality.

Long exposure photography allows us to experience a continuously moving scene as a frozen moment. It is both natural, and yet, unnatural at the same time. No one witnessing this scene at the river that morning would have experienced it quite as it is depicted in this image and I like that about this technique.

Taken with a Fuji GFX 50s medium-format digital camera and a Fuji G-mount 120mm f/4 lens. The exposure was 2 minutes @ f/16 and ISO 200. A 6-stop Lee “Little Stopper” neutral density filter was used to achieve the 2-minute exposure.

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