Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sunrise Picture Hunt

Peter waiting for the light

We were up at 5:30 this morning to catch the sunrise on Wisner Farm in Warwick, NY. Peter made coffee and carefully poured it into the thermos, while I took the dogs out for an early morning walk. By six, we were out the door, a little sleepy, but ready to go picture hunting. Peter had already scouted our destination on several occasions, but the light was never quite right. Always in the afternoon, the bright light of the setting sun behind the white barn wasn't interesting him. He photographed some other barns and a small stream running through the open fields, but he knew that if he could come back at sunrise, the barn, illuminated by the warm morning light, would be perfectly carved out from the distant treeline and sky. It would be magical.

It took a couple of weeks from when his cousin Gary first suggested the location to when we were finally there on a cold February morning; 12 degrees to be exact. We had waited for the weather and life to cooperate and it was finally the right time. 35 minutes after leaving home, I waited in the car while Peter got his camera ready, mounting it to a monopod to steady his camera in the low light. I drank coffee and occasionally rolled down the window to check on him and take his photo. He took a few photos of the barn, surrounding Fields and me napping (briefly) as the dawn light changed subtly from cool blues to peach and lavender.

7:07 was the official sunrise time, we had looked it up the night before. The farm was in a valley and we we waited for the sun to come. 7:10... 7:15... 7:20... The land around us was beautiful and quiet as we waited for the sun to break over the distant hill -- the sky and cool snow covered fields were similar in color with a subtle band of clouds over the barn. Peter stamped his feet to stay warm. 7:25... a distant hill catches the first rays of sunlight. The anticipation is growing. We both know that in a few minutes, the barn that is so quiet now, will be ablaze in warm oranges, pinks and yellows. The grass that is dark and lifeless, will look like a fire running across the blue snow covered fields. At long last, the sun breaks the top of the hill and the show begins. Peter and I both start photographing.

In less than an hour of arriving at the farm, the light had completely changed. The orange glow of a morning sunrise is so fleeting. Still beautiful, the sun was up and the light already cooler and harder.

On the way home, Peter was jubilant. He reviewed his photos in the back of his camera and said, "I feel like a big-game hunter that just bagged a big one." When we get home, he downloaded his photos and headed straight for the studio. He couldn't wait to get started painting.

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