Tag Archives: sunrise

Thinking of Warmer Times

140218_SanJuanIs_SouthPoint by © 2013 Karl Graf. Canon 7D, EF-S10-22 @ 10mm, f/22, 1/10 sec, ISO 200

In the depth of winter, my mind wanders to warmer times.  Last summer we joined a couple of friends on San Juan Island in Puget Sound to photograph Orca’s.  One morning we woke early to catch a sunrise.  The sunrise on the horizon was not very interesting.  But looking behind me, I saw the gorgeous warm sunlight on the western shore of the point where were standing.  Lesson learned from John Barclay, “When photographing a sunset or sunrise, make sure to look behind you!”


Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – First Light

131126_Mesquite Dunes - First Light by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 280mm, f/22, 1/2 sec, ISO 200

First light across the dunes was a dramatic sight.  The dune directly in front of me caught the brilliant first light of day, while the dune behind was still in shadow.  This moment lasted only a few seconds.  If you look hard at the background dune, you can see traces of sunlight on the tops of the ripples.  A moment later everything was in bright sunlight.  I was lucky to be set up and just waiting for the sun to break.

I experimented with this image to create a B&W version.  I felt that the bright area was just too much in the B&W version.  I like the warm tan sand contrasted against the grey background shadow in color version.  Below is the B&W version.  Choose for yourself.

131126_Mesquite Dunes - First Light B&W by Karl G. Graf.

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Death Valley: Follow the Leader

131125_Mesquite Dunes by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 110mm, f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 200

On one of our workshop “sleep-in days”,  a few of us went out to capture the early morning sunrise at Mesquite Dunes with Chuck Kimmerle.  Chuck got us set up to catch the first light then took off on his own to explore.  You can see Chuck in the upper left of this image.

When working with the “Pros”, I like to just watch and see what catches their eye as they explore an area.  So I took this opportunity to follow Chuck’s foot steps across the sand and see where he stopped and milled around or set up his tripod.  It was a good learning experience.  At some of his stops, I saw nothing that caught my eye.  At other stops, I looked around and saw a WOW image that I would have easily overlooked.  Also, I stopped at many places where he did not stop to capture what I thought was a great image.  It was a great learning exercise and a lot of fun too!

This is one of my few photos where I captured an overall image of the surrounding area.  For most of my images, I tried to capture the details of the light and shadows as they passed over the dunes.  To do this I added a 1.4X extender to my 70-200mm lens and used my Canon 7D cropped sensor camera.  Because we were in a harsh environment in the sand, I did not dare change lenses.  Next time I will make the hike with a normal lens to capture the overall beauty of the dunes against the purple mountains.


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Death Valley: Sunrise ON Zabriskie Point

131124_Zabriskie Point by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS @ 125mm, f/16, 1/90 sec, ISO 400

Just a few moments after I took the image on my previous post the sun popped over the ridge and lit up Zabriskie Point.  The point seemed like it was on fire.  The subtle tonalities were severely washed out.  I had to add a lot of structure in NIK Viveza and tonal contrast in NIK ColorEfex Pro to bring out the contrasts.

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Death Valley: Sunrise at Zabriskie Point

131123_Zabriskie Point by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS @ 200mm, f/11, 1/20 sec, ISO 400

Sunrise had just broken on the mountains on the far side of Death Valley.  Zabriskie Point was still in the shadows, but there was enough light to bring out the tonal differences in the ridges and valleys leading down from the point.


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