The Magic of Morning Light

Andy, a colleague of mine, asked me my favorite time of day to take photos. Without hesitation, I said “give me morning light”.  Wait a minute!  I hate getting up early in the morning!  But when I do pull myself out of bed, I find tremendous opportunities to capture images warmed by the low morning sun.  The same holds true of low evening sun.  Yet, morning time offers its own special qualities that you’ll find less often in the evening: quiet, reflective water surfaces and fog.

Still Water in Morning Light

In my post, “Fall Color After All,” all the images feature reflection.  The first shot shows the magic of full early light, while in the second photo, the morning light is just hitting the tops of the trees.  In both, the water is fairly still and delivers sharp reflections.

The Light Tests

Back to Andy’s question, though, my purpose was to provide a comparison that shows why I prefer morning light.  To that end, I photographed the same dilapidated building (photographers love decay) at noon one day, and then near sunrise on another day.

Noon Light

Dilapidated House @ Noon
70-200mm @98 mm, 1/800 s, f/8, ISO 400

Noon Light

Dilapidated House @ Noon
70-200mm @98 mm, 1/800 s, f/8, ISO 400

Morning Light

Dilapidated House in Morning Light
70-200mm @105 mm, 1/800 s, f/8, ISO 800

I shot the first image around noon.  I included the black and white version for comparison.  The peeling pain was a light color, so it looks nearly the same with and without color.

I shot the second image about 45 minutes after sunrise (see, I really find it hard to get up early).  All of the warmth on the wood is from the low sun and that is what makes the image pop.

If you click on one of the images and then cycle through the enlarged versions, you can see the tonal relationships more cleanly.

A note on the image processing: to keep the comparison honest, I’ve only made basic tonal and sharpening adjustments to these images without touching color or hue.

 

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