180805 Sunrise - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Sunrises, like sunsets, are backgrounds, not subjects. But they are pretty backgrounds.

This photo is a two-minute exposure, taken through dense neutral density filters, as the sun rose above the Leslie Street Spit in the distance. I've kept the sun just out of the frame and the XF16 lens is shielded by its hood, which is the pointy petal one that came in the box. I normally use the squared metal aftermarket hood, but it won't let me stack filters. And stacking filters has turned out to be very important these days, as a mere ten-stop reduction is often still too much light.

If technology is the most important part of my photography then I'm doing something wrong. I embrace that. But it's also true that the cameras I started with have sensors that couldn't have done these photos, the carbon tripods that were light enough to carry for a night were far too expensive for me to own, and conversely the darkening filters that I bought even a few years ago – for five times more than these ones cost – have uncorrectable colour casts. I could not have been able to, or would not have been willing to, make this photo just a few years ago. 

The technology doesn't matter. But it is amazing. And here, in a two-minute exposure, it let me show something of how I feel to watch the sun rise over the lake my city draws its life from after a long night on its shores.

I'd say that that's the actual subject for the background of a summer sunrise.


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