Friday, May 30, 2008

Sun Spot

Every Photographer Needs A Little Luck

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Sometimes, you just get lucky. You can have a great camera. You can have a great eye for composition. You can have lots of spare capacity on your memory card. You can have plenty of mileage in your rechargeable batteries. You can have great light. You can have great vistas. You can have a great city spread out before you. But it helps to have a little luck.

I shot this sequence yesterday morning, while it was still Wednesday in Europe, Canada and the United States – but it clearly surpasses the other photographs I was ready to post for Sky Watch Friday.

I took an earlier train than normal into the city and watched the greys and pinks and mauves of a classic Melbourne sky. I gritted my teeth when I could not get a shot of the dome of a Coptic church silhouetted against the brilliant dawn. But I didn’t realise that I would soon be richly compensated for my disappointment.

At this stage, I must point out something that my regular readers are aware of - I do not digitally manipulate my images in any way. No Photoshop. No fancy effects. What you see here is exactly what I shoot.

Shortly after 7.30, I crossed the footbridge between Flinders Street Station and Southbank. The clarity of dawn had given way to a narrow band of fog that obscured the light towers of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Then, probably because I’m curious by nature, I looked back over my shoulder – and there was the sun.

But it shone big and ponderous and low on the horizon – and it was shining a ghostly shimmering white, because of the fog.


I had my 18-125 Sigma lens on the camera, but I also had my 300mm lens in the bag as well. But there was no time to waste. I stopped in the middle of the bridge, crossed to the railing and started shooting the scene as commuters rushed past. In the space of two minutes, the sun was obscured. Such a narrow window of opportunity – and I was just in the right place at the right time.

If I had caught my normal train, I would have missed the sight completely. And if I had changed at Richmond as I always do, to get a direct train to Flinders Street instead of staying on the train (because it was crowded) through the entire City Loop, I would have been too early to capture these scenes.

Most importantly, did you actually spot the sun in the first frame? Really? Let me know!


For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch Friday.

73 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

The color in the bottom photo especially, to me, looks like a giant dust or sand storm. Something like those I used to see in the desert around Tucson. Nice photography.

quinttarantino said...

When you say ebery photographer needs luck I would add skills and ability to see the photo right in front of his eyes!

GAWO said...

Lucky you. The photos are great.You were on the right place at the right time.

Texas Travelers said...

Great sequence. You are right about the equipment, but sometimes a photographer makes his own luck.

However, timing is something we can't control.

Beautiful work, and great commentary.


Our sky is heating up.
Come visit,
Troy and Martha

Daniel J Santos said...

Fantastic colors, excellent.

Craver Vii said...

I missed it at first, but went back to spot the sun playing peekaboo. Brilliant sequence! You're a superstar, David; keep shining!

Max-e said...

Hi David, I love it when something like this happens. This is a great series. Seems like you also captured a bird in the first shot.
Like you I generally post my pics as I photographed them - probably goes back to my SLR and film days.

Lee said...

Ooh! I've finally seen a yellow I like. Great shots David! I love them all.

Cheers,
Lee

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Spectacular shots... at first glance, I assumed it was a cloud of dust or smoke. Such amazing photos sends the hairs on the back on my neck up! Awesome.
I never use Photoshop to digitally manipulate my photos either.
Have a good weekend.
Rocky Mountain Retreat

Anemone said...

I have no words...


... but you are the "one and only"...

Nice weekend to you, from Anne in the middle of Norway.

Voz do meu Coração said...

Simply wonderful these photos, very beautiful. Congratulations

Bubba's Sis said...

Absolutely gorgeous!

imac said...

Wow David well captured, super post.


Pop and see my Water features

***Fotografia e Luz*** said...

mágnificas photos with a sky full of colors

Old Wom Tigley said...

What a great post this is David... I know just how busy you have been of late so this says a great deal about you as well.. thank you.

polona said...

wow, fabulous light in these shots!
and since you asked, yes, i did see the sun in the first photo.

are those black spots, in a different position in each photo, birds?

John said...

Amazing shots and very good capture description, David!
I could not see the sun in the first shot, maybe it was behind the building.
I don`t use Photoshop either to digitally manipulate my photos, but I use Adobe Lighroom as a RAW converter.
Happy friday David!

Ann from Montana said...

No...I did not see the sun in the first photo until I went back...magnificent shots!

Sherry said...

These are such beautiful photos. The color and light are amazing! Yes, I did notice the sun in that first one.

Hilary said...

Incredibly beautiful shots, David. I have to admit that I never noticed the actual orb in the first shot. What a lovely sequence of images you've captured.

Corey~living and loving said...

OH MY YES....then when you are there...the right time....the right place....and NO camera. happens to me.....get sick to my stomache about it. ugh.

Ida said...

I know what you`re talking about.... ;)
Excellent post Mr. M! :)

Celebration of Life said...

Awesome pictures and narrative, David!

Lynetta said...

David, thanks for visiting my blog. It's always good to meet another writer! I enjoyed your wonderful photos on this post. You may say you got lucky, but there's obviously some talent there too.

San said...

Stephen Spielberg would be proud. It looks like a sky infused with magic by a clutch of sophisticated cinematographers.

As you say, the magic was in the timing. And if I may, I'll add to that--in the eye of the photographer.

Jennifer H said...

What amazing luck. These are spectacular. The colors are stunning. I didn't see the sun in the first photo, but I'm glad you asked the question so I would look again.

Quiet Paths said...

Very nice colors but the framing is what does it for me!

katherine. said...

amazing.

I love the dawn...just not always dressed and ready to catch the early train....smile

CrazyCath said...

Yes! I saw it! At first, I thought the sun was the bright spot which is actually above the actual sun, but when I looked closely (and I do scrutinise these types of shots because I learn so much) I saw it peeping out from behind the building. Truly a great composition and you were definitely in the right place at the right time.

Also you have passed something on - I never fiddle with my shots either and post what I photographed just as it is. It creates a challenge to frame the shot correctly and notice what I am photographing. (Also I do not know how to manipulate photos very well but don't tell anyone, ok?) The most I do is crop - and then I say I have when I do.
A great teacher. A great photograph. And it's ok being in the right place at the right time, but you have to know that you are, and you do David. Every time. That one I still have a lot of work to do on (amongst other things!)

Lyn said...

i really enjoyed all the photos. the colors were wonderful!

holly said...

ooooooh i love 'em. didn't spot the sun in the first frame. but i *did* in the last! what? no contest winnings with that one? dang! i'm tired!

okay:
1) i never have a great camera
2) i have a mediocre eye
3) i never have tons of memory
4) i never have tons of batteries
5) i have passable vistas
6) i have great town-spreads (but see #2 above).

luck?

i've got that in spades...

but i also have to use photoshop.

yours? too beautiful to touch with photoshop.

i REALLY

really
really
really

love these shots.

really.

Tammy said...

Wow!!!! I love the yellow in the sky!

Les Becker said...

I LOVE that third shot! Feels like I'm standing on a cloud.

GoneBackSouth said...

Must admit I didn't see the sun in the first frame. Great pics - very dramatic.

Champ Townboy said...

Lucky shot ... and awesome, as always! And I agree with Quinttarantino, of course.

Betsy said...

Beautiful! My first thought was that it reminded me of your header. Didn't see the sun until you pointed it out, though...but was busy reading your post. ;)

Rose said...

Words fail me....these are fabulous to say the least.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Stunning, David. Most people on their way to work probably missed this or only half saw it.

One thing I REALLY like about working on a photo blog is it DOES make the bloggers more aware of their surroundings.

So MAYBE you were lucky...and maybe you're walking through life with your eyes open -- wide open.

babooshka said...

You can only go so far on luck. Your timing and talent on these shine through. The colour is out od this world.

Charles Gramlich said...

The sulfurous color definitely gives me an otherworldly feeling, like a planet being terraformed.

Lys said...

GORGEOUS photos!!!!

Kathryn said...

Wow. Those shots are amazing! Just gorgeous!

alicesg said...

Wow you really have all the luck on photography. Lovely colours of th sun. At first I thought it was sunset but then your later photos show the sun rising, so it should be sunrise.

Rhea said...

Amazing photography! You sure did get lucky, but more than that, you are talented as well, obviously.

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

"Luck happens to those who are already prepared to accept it."

This is a magnificent series of photographs. Although I am on the other side of the world from you, I am privileged to see this stunning view through your eyes. Thank you!

willow said...

Spectacular, spectacular! (accent as in Moulin Rouge)

chrome3d said...

Very dense atmosphere. I loved these. Thanks for the story too.

Seamus said...

Beautiful sequence David!

Neva said...

I love that you find these great shots while missing the train you usually take! Awesome shots and lucky for you were there at the right time.....stunning.
My S is here

And here

Steven and Aisha said...

Yeah I saw the sun on the first frame :D You were just in time. Great shot!

Cowboys, Kids, and Sunsets said...

Hello, I was just "blog surfing"
I love Sunsets, as well as Sunrises! I too will stop to take a photo. The colors are beautiful, deep and glowing. To capture a sunset is awesome! To watch a sunset is priceless! To do both is inspiring! I never get tired of discovering the beauty that surrounds us! I carry my camera always, because you never know when it will present itself! You have beautiful photographs, I am glad I found you. I will be checking back for more "gifts"

evlahos said...

a part of a photo is to have luck and to be in the right place the right moment. And you know the secret. excellent series. great use of light

Anne-Berit said...

Wow,such beautiful colours!

quilly said...

Wow! I am super short of time and likely will be until these last few days of school are past. Thanks for the shout out this morning. I saw Polona and got so excited I didn't notice me until someone else pointed it out!

i beati said...

I have to say have not seen this shade before

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

absolutely wonderful shot

Casdok said...

Stunning!

Mima said...

I didn't spot the sun in the first frame until I went back to look again, as I was just so captivated by the light in the clouds. What a sun rise, and you are right about moments in time!

sandy's notes said...

Yes, a little luck does a photographer good! These are a great series of shots. The yellow is spectacular! You obviously were able to respond quickly to knowing what you needed at the right time. That's not luck, that's experience and perhaps the two made these wonderful shots!

Thanks for sharing these, you brought a smile to my skywatch!

womaninawindow said...

Such an opportunity! And I was wondering about photoshop because those colours SEEM so unnatural. Wonderful!

BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

STUNNING, David! These photos look to be of the same caliber as those I'd expect to find in a National Geographic magazine! You have a definite eye for capturing the moment!

Daryl said...

Its sneaking into the frame down on the left .. looking to see whose watching before it pops up...

:-Daryl

pat houseworth said...

Outstanding....Luck and Skill combined are the best bets.

Dewdrop said...

These are fantastic!!! I love it, and you certainly were in the right spot at the right time. GREAT CAPTURES!!! Love it!!! The fog, the golden yellow sunlight dancing in it. I am blown away.

aims said...

I didn't spot it first time around but once you mentioned it - of course!

Kim said...

Very nice sequence off shots. The color is so crisp and bright.

raf said...

Excellent post, David! Didn't spot the sun on first glance, but appreciated your great shots and series. Yep, Lady Luck sometimes plays a big part in a shot, but consistent good photography is always present in your fine blog. Thanks for all the good advice too.

Bruno LoGreco said...

I had to go back a second time to the first frame before I noticed the sun. I was admiring the shot of the sky and the colour - spectacular shots - even through each frame as the sun begins to descend, crossing the skies.

just jamie said...

Fantastic. Love that you use no effects. Nor do I, but only because I don't know how. Didn't catch the sun in the first shot. Did I fail the test? I hate losing.

Sandpiper said...

Outstanding pictures! What a great sky.

Debbie in NC said...

Wow David, these are gorgeous photos! I agree with Quint's comment :)

mirage2g said...

First time (again in your blog) to see such unique yellow sky!!! Yes, I spotted the sun in the first photo..partly =)

imbeingheldhostage said...

Well, 72 comments testifies the power of these shots-- Absolutely stunning! Thank you for sharing them and the techniques!