A moss-covered, drowning tree trails its twigs in the languorous flow of a dawn-impregnated river. The sun peeps through the mist over the dim, far bank, preparing a hot new day in the Deep South.
Except that this is not Missouri, but Beaugency sur Loire, in the Loiret, another favourite spot of mine, downstream from the medieval town, where this Summer-slow river meanders in shallow turns between forested shores.
Although it is not far from the nearby ribbon of housing built above the flood plain, it takes a determined pre-dawn effort to reach this semi-wilderness, clambering in the gloom with a torch through tall weeds, trying to find a view of the dawn that will do justice to the peace and beauty of la France Profonde.
Don’t Miss The Gift
The joy of simply being in such a place at such a time is as important as any photographic intent and I always try to remain open to the absolute gift that is being presented to me. Surely the sense of awe, peace and beauty which such a moment offers is key to feeling the way towards choosing an image that can be shared with you.
I confess that the fleeting effects of light tend to push me towards a more bustling, mentally intense, active attitude, rather than a spiritual, meditative state, but my urge to be at the right place at the right time and the investment of planning and effort to get there help me to not “waste” my time in photography alone.
I am as guilty as the many other persons I see in attractive places, so much hurrying to capture “the” image, that we sometimes miss the sweetness of the moment and the chance to feed the inner self.
Flexibility Is Everything
Given the constraints of unstable ground, twisted branches, highly contrasted light and heavily detailed shapes, I was glad to have scrambled my way down to the rivers’ edge with a heavy tripod and a bag full of lens choices.
This scene called for the use of the most flexible one, an “architectural”, wide angle, “Perspective Control” instrument. Adjustments allow the lens to view the scene more flexibly than a “normal” lens permits, particularly via raising and lowering the optics to alter the view of the scene, without moving the camera body.
Normally this lens comes into its own when trying to capture the entirety of a tall building without parallax distortion. Being a prime lens it is extremely efficient optically, but it does require exacting focus pulling, since it is manual focus only.
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: 24mm f3.5D ED Perspective Control
Focal Length: 24mm
Focus Mode: Manual
Shutter Speed: 1/40s
Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Compensation : 0
Bracketing set to 5
ISO Sensitivity: 200
Mounted on a Tripod
I urge you to get up early and enjoy the dawn whenever you can, ready to both drink in its sweetness for yourself, as well as to share what you see with others via photography.
Copyright Paul Grayson 2015