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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Haleakala Sunrise

Suspended, camera ready, a timeless moment between primal past and infinite future

With mostly dark subjects, I have to be careful. I’ll expose for the darkest place, then hold that exposure as I recompose. What I’m always after is an exposure that’s rich and saturated throughout. I’d rather end up with a deeper dark area than have blown-out highlights that you typically get from digital sensors.

Although I’ll use automatic ISO, which gives good exposure values for all light levels—great for shooting handheld in a museum with dioramas or paintings—I don’t like the higher noise-prone ISOs. So usually I’ll go to Program with ISO 100 or 80 for landscape work, and perhaps use ISO 200 for animal images.

Another thing I’ve learned: What you see on the camera’s LCD screen isn’t what you get on the computer or in the printer profiles. That’s why I don’t use live view. In bright outdoor light, I can’t see the LCD accurately anyway, so I prefer the viewfinder. That’s why I like the 35mm DSLR-style cameras. I do check the screen afterward for composition, though.

And now the moment comes. The rim is a dynamic place. So many people are here today, all rolling the dice like I am. You can feel the energy. It’s an experience, not just a photographic location. At other times of day, the light can be dull. But every morning there’s a good chance for an exciting encounter with the newborn sun. I’d make this trek even if it wasn’t to photograph!

There: A domed sliver of light flares above the ocean horizon through a gap in the rim of the volcano. Time and space begin again, the first promise of all that lies ahead.

A primal Timeless Moment, ever eternal, ever new.

Over the course of some five decades, David Muench’s work has been celebrated in more than 50 exhibit-format books such as Plateau Light and Eternal Desert, as well as innumerable exhibits and permanent installations. See more of his images at www.muenchphotography.com.

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