Sunrise Photography Meditation
- Joy Krauthammer 1.27.14
Photographing the daily sunrise is my hour-long morning meditation beginning around 6 AM. Connection with the Holy One, Painter of the morning, Creator of All, is my consciousness. Prayers I say mindfully with inner peace, as I slowly wait in the dark and as light appears. There are no other thoughts but gratitude. My patience is rewarded and every morning, alone, I quietly observe and witness the birth of a new day.
After I have calmly walked the far distance of my back yard to be closer to where the sun will rise, the earth and cement ground may be cold to my bare feet. For health protection, I may go back inside for my comfy Birkenstock sandals, or thin-soled red rubber shoes. If really cool outside, I may go back inside for a jacket or robe over my pajamas. Once again outside at edge of property, I am careful not to fall down the unfenced steep eastern slope. Sometimes feeling heavy winds, I have to hold tightly onto a fence, so not to be blown away while photographing.
While still dark, as light appears, I await the colors that will cover the Valley horizon, and spread across the mountains, Verdugo, and San Gabriel, and at times further to the south to Santa Monica. View of the Santa Susana Mountains on the north, are blocked by the hillside and higher placed houses, north of me.
I concentrate on the stillness and silence, unless sounds and wind are present. Decades ago I could hear horses, rooster, or a train. Sounds of Mockingbirds in song, or honking geese flying overhead, or even the sharp Hummingbird sounds, always delight me. The Hummer sits for a long time on the high top of the Fig tree's winter barren branch. The Mockingbird perches on the top highest limb of the huge Pyracantha bush growing on north side of up slope. At times the Mockingbird and Hummer change positions. When the sun color reflects on the belly of the Mockingbird, her chest is golden. To view this beautiful vision, I stand amongst the artichoke plants, by the precarious unprotected east edge of garden.
Mountains may be clear and crisp, and distant buildings' lights visible on the mountainside many miles away, or clouded by layers of fog, or in the past by dirty brown smog. At times, the landscape appears as a misty Asian painting with trees disappearing into the distance.
Colors may be soft and dusty. Before the sun is visible there can be sharp orange or red, and maybe even purple color appearing in all forms, streaks, and positions. The color may be high in the sky, but rarely appearing overhead. Depending on cloud formations, the sky may be intense with color reflecting and radiating on the clouds. Clouds move and transform before my eyes. I'm in awe of all I see. I become completely absorbed in the magic before me. Every moment present, I am delighted and thrilled by the majesty of G*d's pallet of painting, exposed before me.
There may be blue sky overhead as southwest colored pale soft orange and browns first appear on horizon. From several miles away, as a landmark, I can see the light grey smoke stack fumes from a beer factory. I can see planes using a local Valley airport. I don't appreciate the white lines in sky left by planes.
I stand for a long time and say my prayers. I am absorbed in my focus of the image I concentrate on--the view to the east facing Jerusalem. I am immersed in the present moment.
The fence that has recently been cleared of years of old vines again gives birth to green newness. It has become an object to reflect the rising red sunlight and to draw attention to the landscape. The fence becomes an angled foreground and lines converge, as I compose design, and contrast harshness to the dark distant mountains.
Receiving light, the top surface of the black wrought iron fence, looks to me with its lines disappearing in the distance, as an inviting pier reaching out into a calm lake. I can lower my body and push my camera in hand through the fence to catch the subtle red on the fence's far side, making photo look like I stood on other side of fence, at top of a steep slope where there is no place to carefully stand. Depending on whether I stand, squat or sit on the ground, or move an inch in any direction, the same foreground objects take on different dimensions and imaginings.
As the sun is gently rising, at a point where I may re-position myself, the sun shows up through where there is a long downward curved palm frond that embraces the sun. Timing is critical as I hold my camera level. As the wind blows, the frond smoothly lifts her arm to expose more of the sun's bright yellow, gold or orange glow. I wonder what will be the behavior of the palm at that moment and I flow with her. Each sighting last only seconds. I want an artistic photograph. I don't want the neighbor's early morning bathroom light on, in my photo.
With each breath of wind, I look into the viewfinder, see everything in view, and compose carefully the frame I shoot to catch the glow through the palm frond. If I move to another location, I may catch the sun between Pine trees. I may focus the sun with the mountains more north, or I may shoot the sun with the more Easterly Mountains. Nearby tall pines about four decades old, are in the middle of my scene and I don't want them in the middle so I compromise and photograph scenes to either side of the rising run. A tall thin Cypress breaks the scene with the Pines. I see and realize that I'll crop out much dark foreground or maybe too much sky for the edited photo. A Panoramic shot can catch about 180* of rising sun landscape.
In order to see more of the NE vision and mountain, I press my body against the fence at the south edge of my property. My back has felt the prickles of Honeysuckle vine 'stickles'. Later I realize that in the dark I've also backed up against thin tall weeds with yellow flowers that transform to thin sticker thorns like cactus needles-- that pierce my pajamas, and legs. Once inside I must remove dozens, one by one.
As the sun rises on a clear day in the beauty of nature, I love to catch my own orange-colored shadow against the house or on the ground, along with plant shadows. I have fun shooting a 'selfie' following the exhilaration I've felt, after I have been in meditation, and then photographed G*d's glorious sunrise.
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