Early to bed and early to rise... / by Mario Mirabile

Photography is nothing more than the art and craft of capturing light. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? But there's light, and then there's LIGHT. Midday light, with its deep shadows and harsh highlights, can create dramatic images but is generally regarded by photographers as poor light to work in. Generally, the closer to the horizon the sun is, the better the quality of the light. We're all familiar with the glorious colors that sunrise and sunset can bring, but usually the sweetest light occurs in the blue hour.

The blue hour is the twilight period immediately before sunrise and after sunset. It's a bit of a misnomer in that it doesn't last anything close to an hour - at least in these latitudes. The best light can last as little as 10 to 15 minutes, so you need to be prepared and work fast. The morning blue hour tends to be clearer and more still and lends itself to stunning images, but unfortunately it also means you have to get up early. If you're sensible you won't try this in the middle of summer when the blue hour occurs at very a very unsociable time. Autumn is a great time to experience it - temperatures are crisp but not yet frigid, the air is clear and on this occasion the sun rose at a reasonable 7:15 AM.

I arrived at Shallow Inlet near Wilson's Promontory shortly after 6:30 AM and waited to see what would happen. I took a few shots, but I unfortunately the most interesting feature on the beach - the beached boats further up the inlet - were pretty much invisible until the best light had passed. I'm still happy with the two boat images, but the light was past its stunning best.

Even though it's hard work, dragging yourself out of bed well before sunrise has its rewards.