Early Morning Jaunt


Woke up hours before my alarm went off, and figured it was as good a time as any to get the old bones moving. Loaded up Sandy with the gear, got the tunes going, and headed off somewhere. Sunrise was due in a little over an hour, so I decided I had enough time to make it over to the Standley Chasm area. With the top down it was a bit of a brisk drive, but singing tends to generate warmth… especially when I’m competing with the rushing wind. Eventually made my way down some exciting dirt trails and when I saw the dark blue shadow of the earth descending, I knew I only had a short while before the sun would kiss the tips of the mountains. I parked, gathered up my gear, and went a traipsin’ though the brush to a mini-ridge that got me above the tree line. 


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This was the first style of shot I went for. I loved how slightly the sun’s rays were hitting the mountains. I had my D800e and 70-200mm combo on the tripod, with the Lee filter system (.9 Grad ND filter) bringing the sky to a more manageable level. ISO 100, 1/10sec, f/5.6 at 98mm. This picture isn’t really about punch so much as it is about a gradual process that happens every day, whether we’re around to realize it or not. I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted the composition. There weren’t really any defined bookends for me to use, so I went by feel. Balancing is probably the most important skill I’ve learned (purely through experience… you learn the rules, then learn how/why they work, and then you start to get a good feel for how elements are supposed to go) and even if it might not be perfect, it’s what I’ve chosen. I wanted to show the blue of the sky, so I had to include a bit more of it in the frame, add just enough foreground and then all you need to do is worry about the where to position the subject so it’s balanced laterally.

Another thing to note is that where I first came up the ridge, there were these diabolical trees that were maliciously screwing up my foreground. I had to make my way down a bit before I could shoot in between them, but as you go down, more trees, that weren’t a problem before, decide that it’s their time for their debut. Those ones you’ll see a little later.


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By a little later, I meant now. 

Scanning a little to the East, the rest of the ranges were still in glorious shadow whilst the sunlight streamed over the MacDonnell ranges to the West of Alice Springs. A long ways away, they still made for a dynamic landscape of shadows. ISO 100 again, 1/8sec, f/8, at 70mm… I’ve gone a little wider to include more of the landscape, but the tree at the bottom right and the hot mess hugging the bottom left were thorns in my side. They were too prevalent in the frame wherever I put them… moving wasn’t much of an option this late in the light show. I guess the light on the left mountain balances out with the bottom right issue… and the left chaos just… idk, magics away? Perhaps it balances with the heavy dark weight of the mountains' shadows skewing right. Not quite sure how this dynamic works entirely.

I do enjoy how the bottom is dappled with flashes of warm orange from the sound, almost complimenting the slight blue of the shadows and sky.


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As the sun rose a little more, I swung even more right(East) to catch the now-yellow backlighting of the ridges. ISO 100, 1/60sec, f/8, and now 200mm. Again, no defined stops for the sides, so I think I put the zig-zagging of lines centerish, with the bright areas slightly outweighing the darker ones, and thus, getting less room to flaunt their wares. You can also see a shot from earlier that was trying to play with the same scene with lesser light:


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Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite make it into my ‘happy’ bin. I think the reason is that it wasn’t poignant enough of a scene, with the blue sky too washed out at the moment. Had to wait for the sun to get higher. I was trying with the dual peaks in a more center weighted approach, but when I returned later, the light on the foreground just didn’t balance with the ridge.. and even the fore-ridge doesn’t quite fit correctly.


After the magic of the morning, I walked back to my chariot, and continued down the path… Like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, I found this little beauty tucked away in one of the nooks of the mountains:


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The shadows were entirely too dark, but thankfully, the D800e came to the rescue with its dynamic range. I was able to pull the detail out.


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I went with the 100mm Zeiss for this guy (ISO 100, f/2, 1/1000sec), and where I was, the trees framed the scene nicely. I changed my viewpoint by walking 50ft to my right, but it just didn’t have the same feel as this angle does. 


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Continuing past, I got to a neat little trail that went down into some sand, and a very tight squeeze for even Sandy.


Now I’m about to go spelunking, wish me luck!!















[You thought it was a typo earlier? Oh, no, no: “I AM ORANGE OF THE FIREY SUN!.. And, blues, you’re looking quite subtle and graceful today.” See? ‘I’ was correct.]




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