Friday, April 17, 2009

Edifice Complex

Town Hall Frames A Striking Dawn

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Just before we moved our clocks back at the end of more than five months of daylight saving, daybreak seemed to come almost reluctantly to this wide brown land of plains and mountains. The first dusting of pre-dawn cloud would emerge bashfully a few minutes after seven o’clock, but the sun would not actually climb above the horizon until about half past seven.

Since the first weekend of April, we have reverted to normal time and so the sun rises sixty minutes earlier in the mornings, but darkness cloaks this country-continent an hour earlier as well. This will lead to progressively shorter daylight hours until our June solstice, when the days get longer again, despite the cold embrace of winter.


This sequence was shot just before daylight saving ended and as you can see from the time on the clock tower, it was about 7.23am when I shot these images.

The interesting thing with dawn colours here is that the yellows and oranges tend to stay longer in the sky than other shades.

So as soon as I spotted these vivid pink streaks across a skyscape laden with thick cloud, I knew the colours would retreat rapidly. I happened to be driving through Dandenong, a town about 30km south-east of the central business district.


I made a quick decision to drive a bit further, down a couple of streets. Why? Because I knew I would be able to use the distinctive shape of the floodlit Town Hall against the dawn sky.

You’ll notice that I’ve framed these shots asymmetrically. There’s a specific reason for that. I had to be quick – and I didn’t want the squat building on my left (see the photograph below) to encroach on the composition. I shot this sequence with my 18-125mm lens, which gave me more than enough leeway to compose some tight shots of the tower and the dramatic colours across the cloud.


All up, it was no longer than two and a half minutes from the first shot to the last. Interestingly, a staggering drunk happened to notice what I was doing.

He asked if I was a photographer and I answered him courteously. Then, squinting at the beautiful dawn sky, he ventured the comment: "Great sunset."

Either he was twelve hours too late or twelve hours too early. I wished him well, we exchanged thumbs-up signals, and I got back into my car and placed the camera on the front passenger seat.

I started up and just before I pulled away (we’re in right-hand drive cars here in Australia) I looked in my wing mirror. There was no traffic, but this was the sight that greeted me, so of course I had to pick up my camera for one final frame - of the same scene, faithfully reflected in my mirror.


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

58 comments:

Shadow said...

those colours! those colours!!! you are bloody amazing!

Hilary said...

That's just so beautiful. Each and every one of them are composed so perfectly. Lovely!

mountain.mama said...

Wow, I can't decide which is better--the story or the pictures!

katherine. said...

really lovely...we get very few spectacular sunrises...facing west and all...

Celebration of Life said...

Brilliant and beautiful photos! I would like to print one of the town hall photos so I can paint a picture of it, if that is okay with you?

Barbaloot said...

That is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing---and thanks for the Sydney advice as well!

Maggie May said...

The colours are really amazing & all your photos are great but do you know? My favourite on is the last one, through the car window! I love the way it is framed!
Don't long for June & the lengthening days..... cos ours will start to get shorter then!

Regina said...

Awesome shots..perfect.

Moannie said...

Those shots are simply amazing, David,especially the last one, and I loved the story that went with them.

You Sir Knight, are simply the best.

RuneE said...

That last one was a real stunner! I hope your "friend" hadn't made the change to winter time to many times...

aims said...

Loved the drunk's comments David. And the final shot brought a sigh...

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Simply fantastic! You are brilliant!

J9 said...

I love the depth and color in these - amazingly beautiful!

Artist Unplugged said...

Breathtakingly beautiful!!! Good story too! I would have gotten that last shot too.....with my trusty cellphone camera! Lovely.

quilly said...

Wow!

Jules~ said...

Oh my goodness, those pictures are amazing. It looks as if the sky is wrapped in velvet material and is ripping open in the center.

TheWritersPorch said...

STUNNING David ! Simply Stunning!

Ananda girl said...

So gorgeous! Reminds me of Peter Pan and Wendy flying past Big Ben.
Very nice.

notfromaroundhere said...

These are fantastic. Is this central Dandenong proper or somewhere close by?

Sara Tribble said...

This is magnificent!

imac said...

Nice shots David.

Just posted the last episode of Baker n Potts story

prkl said...

my fav is the upmost pic. wouldn't change a thing. great low light photography. happy SWF!

Bonnie said...

Lovely!

Mary Elizabeth said...

Sky colours are beautiful.
Have a great skywatch.
Mary ElizabethBlog.

Jennifer H said...

These are spectacular! We had a sunset with those colors here a few months ago. Unlike the drunk in your story, I'm certain that it was an evening sky. ;-)

But you had the gorgeous architecture to play against. I'm not sure I've ever seen a sunrise with those colors. Absolutely beautiful. (Also, I love rear view mirror shots.)

Tranquility said...

Wow - those reds are amazing.
It's interesting how quickly the sun comes up after it finally decides to get started!

Sylvia K said...

No one can combine words and pictures like you do, David, and this is one more example. Fantastic skies, colors, setting!

Pretty Life Online said...

nice shots for skywatch... mine's up too hope you can drop by...

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Oh, this is breathtaking. It looks like some storybook place, David. Thanks for sharing...

Sheila :-)

VALKYRIEN said...

At first I thougt it was a church - and then I thought; This does it! Now I have to get religious! The reason; I have said it twice today - when seeing a couple of beautiful skies one can almost get a religious feeling!

What a relief it was to realize it is the Town Hall! The colors on that sky is stunning!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Ooooohhh! Such a drama filled stunning sky! So vivid!

Happy Skywatch Friday!
~Lisa
New Mexico, USA

bowledover said...

I could only chuckle about the intoxicated person you met.
The skies and buildings are gorgeous and your mirror shot a wonderful reminder of what you were leaving.Thanks for sharing.
Thanks too for your visit and comment SWF.

J Bar said...

Awesome colours.
Sydney City and Suburbs

The Whippy Curly Tails said...

Gorgeous ... I want to lick the sky!

=^..^=

livininlb said...

As others have already commented, these photos are gorgeous. I have been thinking about visiting your lovely country in the next year and these pictures are helping my decision!!

Louise said...

Those colors are unREAL. Had it not been your blog,I would have sworn they were altered. Love all the of compositions, too, but the last one is stunning.

Seamus said...

Wonderful sunrise! :)

Pinkerbell said...

Utterly beautiful!! I can't think of anything else to say...

Eddie Bluelights said...

Fantastic photos David

Kelly H-Y said...

Those pictures are unreal! Absolutely stunning (I think I've been saying that a lot about your pictures!!). :-)

Julia Smith said...

Just love that mirror shot. Incredible reds for a sunrise. Here in eastern Canada I find sunrises have more golden colours, and sunsets have more reds.

jillie said...

That sky is absolutely breathtaking!! I think I could stare at it forever!

PJ said...

These are just stunning, the colors are especially gorgeous and I love the reflection in the mirror.

Leslie: said...

Absolutely phenomenal photos! I don't think we ever get skies that red in the Northern Hemisphere. I'd love to one day experience it for myself. *sigh*

Strawberry Girl said...

Can it get any better than that?

Amazing, fantastic (any other words to describe those photos?)

What a gift for all of us, to be able to view that glorious sunrise!!

Laugh a lot, at the random comment from your street buddy. :D

Janie said...

That first shot is just gorgeous. Interesting to read your thought process in getting the shot. I love that last one, too, taken through the mirror.
Funny about the poor fellow who thought it was sunset!

Kirti said...

makes me think of "under a blood red sky"...is that a U2 song? this would be a perfect setting for a vampire movie! the architectural element adds to the drama...

The Write Girl said...

Simply breathtaking. The reds and blues are so brilliant and colorful. These photographs remind me of a landscape painting.

Annie said...

Ah, great photos as usual David!

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

My initial reaction was just WOW and still is David. Great shots and story.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

I love the mirror shot! I love the view from my side mirrors too.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

Wow! 51 comments already. You don't need us to tell you how fabulous this sky looks!

John said...

Great posting and very well composed shots.
Happy weekend.

Erin said...

gorgeous sky post series...each and every one is simply stunning.

Pouty Lips said...

This is my favorite Sky Watch ever.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, what a sky!

Cath said...

Oh wow! That last one is just inspired! Brilliant - truly brilliant.

And I agree. Great sunset. ;)
(Well I am on the OPPOSITE side of the world!)

Arija said...

A blood red sky, I wonder what that portends, or is it just the change of seasons?