Dawn’s First Light

Riprap#1.  Canon 16-35mm lens @19mm, 13sec @f13, ISO 50. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Riprap#1. Canon 16-35mm lens @19mm, 13sec @f13, ISO 50. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)


One of my favorite times to shoot is before, during and right after dawn. It’s a time of subtle, muted tonalities, long shutter speeds and frequently eerie quiet. And the images produced can have a magic, quiet quality as well.

Which makes it interesting to reflect upon how uncontemplative shooting these images truly is!

Why? Because, first and foremost, you’re working with, but also against the light: the light is your best friend, but it’s also changing rapidly at this point of transition between night and day. You don’t get lots of chances to bracket exposures, reshoot, recompose, because everything is on its way to being regular-old-early-morning: pretty, but completely different.

So you must work very, very quickly: changing lenses in a hurry, checking your exposure, hoping you’re in focus in the near-darkness.

Shoot. Quick now: move on. Shoot.

This light-footed dance of camera, composition and fleeting, beautiful soft light is so very, very delicious. If you have not set the alarm and gotten out in the dark to prowl around as the first light comes on, you need to try this!

You won’t be disappointed.

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: Inspire

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

2 Comments on "Dawn’s First Light"

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  1. karen rose says:

    Hi Andrew,
    i love your site.

  2. Thanks Karen. Always nice to gain a fan.

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