Friday, April 10, 2009

A Modern Calvary

A Good Friday Sequence That Was Meant To Be

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

7.35.59 am. It was a few minutes before dawn last Friday when I shot this sequence - and I reckon it was perfect for a Good Friday post. The symbolism of the hill, the silhouette of a mobile phone tower instead of a crucifix, the endless landscape, the overwhelmingly grey dawn and a sudden burst of vivid colour - they are so redolent of all the Good Friday gospels and the mental images I conjured up when I was a little boy at Sunday School.


7.36.15 am. I wasn't even supposed to be in this spot. Providence - call it what you will - brought me here. I was in a hurry. I was in a hilly region in Melbourne's south-east, running to a deadline, but as I always do, I had several minutes up my sleeve.

When I am in this region, I normally take the quicker of two options - a clear, straight prime stretch of road with a speed limit of 80 km/h. The other option is low down on my list of priorities, because it is a winding descent through a residential zone where there are three roundabouts, intersecting thoroughfares and a top speed of only 50 km/h which drops to 40km/h in one area before a twisting ascent to the hill's crest.


7.36.39 am.
Yet, for some completely unfathomable reason, I take the slow road. Why? I honestly cannot tell you. It went completely against the grain for me to snap on my indicator and make that turn, but that's exactly what I did.

The clouds were completely grey, an unrelenting blanket across the horizon. Then, as I climbed, I spotted a sudden burst of pre-dawn colour through a break in the hills. As a photographer, I knew that I had to pull over as quickly as possible. But I kept going, on the hope that a couple more bends would bring me a great view.

I knew the vantage point wasn't far away. It was less than 30 seconds at most, but I also understood that the heavy cloud cover meant the skyshow would probably only last for a few seconds at most.


7.36.44 am. I parked safely, snatched my camera from the bag and could scarcely believe the powerful colours in the sky. The glow of the pre-dawn sun was simply stunning and for a few precious seconds, there was a strong purple glow to the sky that was redolent of the Outback tones.

I shot this sequence standing less than two metres away from my car. Had I moved further to sprint to a better spot, I would have missed capturing these once-in-a-lifetime colours.

What looks like the sun rising large behind the hill is actually only the glow from the sun that is still below the horizon, but the range of colours that arc across the landscape is - luckily for me - like a rare rainbow.

If you have a moment to spare, scroll back and take a look at the time of each image. You'll see that only 45 seconds - yes, that's all - elapsed between my first shot and my last. These four images are the best of the 10 frames I shot in that time.

Honestly, I think it would take a very special sight to replace this as my favourite sunrise sequence.

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

63 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Such mind boggling beauty! Talk about taking your breath away, these photos do just that! Isn't it wonderful to be in just the right place at just the right time and be able to catch a sight like this? Absolutely gorgeous! Glad you took that road this morning, David!

Janie said...

These are amazing, and, I agree, perfect for Good Friday. Sometimes destiny has our route cut out for us, though we may not know it.

Shadow said...

i was scrolling back and forth to check the minute, then the seconds, then back to the sun.... damn, it moves!!!!

lime said...

really an amazing sequence.

Moannie said...

All that is needed is a silhouette of a camel. Beautiful, truly beautiful.

Happy Easter, Sir Knight.

tardevil said...

Providence...I think so! Beautiful pictures! Have a wonderful Easter!

aims said...

Absolutely breathtaking David.

I wish I had been there.

Akelamalu said...

You were definitely meant to be there David. Lovely post and stunning photos!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Thank you, David, for such a beautiful pre-Easter gift (photos and words.)

Wishing you and the authorblog family a wonderful and joyous Eastertide.

Celebration of Life said...

"He Has Risen"

Beautiful shots David!

Lew said...

Some times you stop and smell the roses and other times you stop and capture the sky. And the sun waits for no photographer! Beautiful pre-sunrise sequence!

Ananda girl said...

Amazing evidence of God! Thank you. These certainly put me in the proper spirit.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Wow, I was running through the house pouring another cup of coffee then saw these pictures, put the coffee down and poured juice instead. Beautiful, peaceful, fabulous.

lakeviewer said...

Yes, perfect Good Friday pictures. We do remember the Gospels from Sunday school.

imac said...

Somethings are planned from above.
The luck be with you David.

Tarolino said...

Provinence led you to take the slow route. These shots are truly magnificent. Particularly with that deep purple in both sky and the landscape. I'm not a sunrise person only because I can never get up early enough but I've seen a few and this one is hard to beat.

Across the Ocean Blue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Southern Lady said...

Truly awe-inspiring photos, David. You were definitely in the right place at the right time.

Best wishes to you for a blessed Easter celebration.

Sincerely,

Janie

ANNA-LYS said...

Beautifully breathtaking,
simply beautiful!
(I am almost speechless)

ANNA-LYS said...

Happy Easter! ;-D

The Things We Carried said...

David,
I like the way you take us along the shoot with you. 45 seconds of splendor in the sky. Just as the weary world must have looked the morning after Calvary.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

A good shooter seizes the moment, and you did that. Gorgeous colors to be sure.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

A truly magnificent set of photos!

prkl said...

Whoa! Whutta great, great colors. Absolutely fantastic! Happy SWF!

Flea said...

Stunning, David. A Good Friday, indeed.

maryt/theteach said...

Great sequence, David! I would have never thought of it! But that's why you're the excellent photographer! :)

Nessa said...

Stunning and dramatic.

Abe Lincoln said...

The colors are very intense. I like all of these photos.

Woman in a Window said...

wow, the amazing grace of the natural world! beautiful.

Craver Vii said...

*gasp* (speechless)

Eddie Bluelights said...

Wonderful,David

Mary Elizabeth said...

Golden sky very beautiful.
Have a great weekend.

Mary Elizabeth Blog.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Very nice.It is almost eerie looking.

Nathalie said...

Aaaaaah what an amazing experience it would have been for you. WOnderful for us to share it with you.

marcia@joyismygoal said...

David those are such awe inspiring colors it is no wonder this example of God's beauty brought your mind the most loving act of the same .

photowannabe said...

Breathtaking. This says what Calvary and the message of Easter are all about.
Thank You.

Doreen said...

lovely shots and great story along with them!

Raven said...

These are great captures. The first one as you said seems very symbolic and very beautiful. Glad you took the slower route!

Guy D said...

Absolutely fantastic photos, these are definately some of my favourites.

Have a great weekend
Guy
Regina In Pictures

Babooshka said...

Absolutely wow factor images.

Cath said...

Awesome shots David. Just awesome.

I am speechless.
Hope you have a wonderful and spiritual weekend.

Annie said...

As you said David, a glorious sunrise! They don't come much better. I went out for the sunrise in NY this morning, and only found it reflected on the tops of the buildings!

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow ... this post and the pictures gave me chills! Simply stunning!

Frisky Librarian said...

Glorious! It amazes when I watch the sun rise or set how quickly it actually happens -it seems strange I suppose because we aren't so aware of the movement of the sun across the sky during the day.

The Write Girl said...

What a beautiful sky and rich colors. The sunrise is amazing : )

C. Michael Cox said...

Wonderful photos and incredible colors.

Kirti said...

Just GORGEOUS!

Deb said...

Beautiful photos!

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

These are powerful images! Almost like a supernatural occurence.

Mushy said...

Pretty cool my friend.

Happy Easter

Could also be a nuclear blast just over the horizon! Nice.

Dot O said...

These are beautiful. You were meant to be there at that moment and they are perfect (dramatic) for Good Friday.

Happy SWF!

Charles Gramlich said...

Gorgeous!

Denise said...

Stunning photos, they have an ethereal quality to them. Happy Easter.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Wonderful David and often our best shots come from unplanned moments. A bit like my moon in the vivid blue night sky through the tree you gave POTD to a few months back. I went out to photograph in the opposite direction, turned around and there it was!

Anyway, these are all stunning as you say the colours are so vivid.

hitchwriter said...

Breathtakingly beautiful... you just want to wait and see the whole scene unfold !! brilliant !

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Such timing! The third shot is outstanding!! WoW!

fishing guy said...

David: What a wonderful sunrise, thanks for sharing with SWF.

Daryl said...

Such a beautiful sky ... Happy Easter!

Suldog said...

Lovely, lovely shots, David. Couldn't possibly be more fitting for Good Friday. Thanks for sharing the beauty!

Lene said...

Sooooo beautiful!!!

Louise said...

The vibrant color is amazing. And that it was there for such a short time incredible. I'm so glad you always have your camera with you!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

These are gorgeous! Really beautiful!

Carol said...

You were meant to see and photograph these, David. No doubt about it. Just beautiful. Happy Easter.