Two Takes on the 1-1-11 Sunrise: Philosophic and Photographic… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Two Takes on the 1-1-11 Sunrise: Philosophic and Photographic...

[Not a valid template]

The start of the new year, the sun just up. Shinnecock Inlet, Hampton Bays, Long Island, NY. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens (hand held at 168mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/5.6. (7:20 am)

Two Takes on the 1-1-11 Sunrise: Photographic and Philosophic.

Being a lover of what is (Byron Katie:, I strive to enjoy each breath and not to worry too much about the past or the future. Holidays and birthdays and anniversaries do not hold much meaning for me. I am excited about every new day, excited by the now, and by the next breath. The reality is that that is all that each of us ever has, the next breath.

So the New Years holiday does not excite me much. That said, I was eager to get out to the beach to photograph the first sunrise of 2011 so that I could share the images with those of you who place more emphasis on the coming of 2011 than I do but who were not in a hurry to get out of bed this morning 🙂 I almost did not make it as the Sunrise Highway was closed because of a big propane leak in Shirley. I made it up to the LIE and was five minutes early for sunrise.

That said I do hope that 2011 is a happy, healthy, productive year for each of you and that it is filled with wondrous travels whether around the world or to your local patch. And I do hope of course that your year is filled with lots of wonderful new images.

[Not a valid template]

The sun at sunrise with silhouetted Herring Gull, Shinnecock Inlet, Hampton Bays, Long Island, NY. Tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 2X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 200. Evaluative metering -1 1/3 stops: 1/1600 sec. at f/22. Manual focus. (7:14 am)

Photographically, the images could not be more different: big fixed focal length tripod mounted lens vs. short, hand held telephoto zoom. The wide, environmental look vs. the tight view, the latter of course more typical of my style. I love how the wings up gull in each image adds so much, especially in the wide image where it balances the composition perfectly even though it is tiny in the frame.

Interesting enough, the 800 with the 2X would not focus with my Live View/Live Mode focusing trick. (See same in our 7D and Mark IV Camera User’s Guides.) Thus the manual focus. When photographing the rising sun with a big lens and one or more teleconverters, you begin by adding light when the sun is well muted, then you progress to a pretty good degree of underexposure. Pro tip for photographing the muted sun: always use the RGB histogram so that you can control the over-exposure of the RED channel. Once you are getting over-exposure at -3 stops at lowest ISO and your smallest aperture, it is best to pack your tent to avoid damaging your eyes. To learn how to continue safely on a clear day see “Photographing the Bright Sun” on page 534 of The Art of Bird Photography II (916 pages on CD only).

I created 72 images of the huge sun, most with the 2X TC and a few with stacked TCs. (The sun just fits in the frame with the 800, stacked TCs, and the Mark IV.) As things turned out, the image with the gull in the best spot in the frame and with the best wing position was a bit hot in the upper part of the sun. I Quick Masked the bird into a properly exposed image but no matter what I did to the layer with the bird on it I could not match the yellow sun background color so I simply added a Layer Mask to the Layer, worked large, and painted away the offending light circle of yellow.

Thanks for all of the excellent comments on the two Dunlin images (Sleeping Bird Horizontal Composition). I will be sharing my thoughts with you on those soon.

Shopper’s Guide

Here is a list of the gear that I used to create the images above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens A versatile intermediate zoom that I have been in love with since I first picked it up 6 months ago.
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used.
Canon 1.4X II teleconverter This is my most used accessory; I would be lost without it.
Canon 2X II teleconverter I love this combined with my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens; Canon’s lighter version of the Nikon 200-400!

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card Fast and dependable.
NEOS Navigator 5 Insulated Overshoes My brand new pair of NEOS Navigators kept me warm and dry and provided safe footing and a good grip on the slippery jetty rocks.

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide.<

9 comments to Two Takes on the 1-1-11 Sunrise: Philosophic and Photographic…

  • I love the soft colors of the first image.

  • Re the sun’s color, if you only intend the bird to be a silhouette, you may be able to get the wrong-colored sun to drop out completely by trying blend modes — generally Multiply or Darker Color, sometimes Hard Light. (Top left of the Layers panel.) Or you might desaturate the bird layer. And you may need to make the piece of the sun in that layer much lighter than the BG sun. With the right tweaks it will disappear and a clean “auto-cutout” of the bird will remain. This is done with the most control with a Curve that keeps the bird dark but makes the sun very light, basically white. Its easier than it sounds and the cutout is so clean its worth a little tweaking to make it work.

  • avatar Ilija Dukovski

    Great way to start the year,
    I love the rising sun and the placement
    of the bird in the wide one.
    Happy New Year!

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Diane, I think that I did the same thing as you are suggesting by hitting CNTRL M (curves on a layer) and adjusting the tonality of the layer by clicking the curve up or down…. The problem was that the color of the sun was also different. That’s why I used a Layer Mask. It only took a few seconds in this case…. Please let me know if I am missing your point 🙂

  • avatar Gordon Lindsay

    I’d like to echo Bill’s comment.

  • avatar Bill Clausen

    Great way to start the year Art. The first image is excellent!

  • avatar Jason Clamper


    What is that black band in the first image?

  • Re adding the bird and having a problem matching the sun’s color: if I understand correctly and the sun was too light in the added piece, you could put that layer in Darken or Multiply mode and only the bird would show. It might be necessary to tweak the contrast of the added piece to get the best result. If the sun was too dark you might still be able to tweak its contrast to lighten it and hold the bird dark. Blend modes are wonderful to sometimes avoid tedious masking.