“Dwarf Larkspur at Sunrise” by Robin Conover Canon EOS 5D Mark IV EF 16–35 mm, 2.8 L lens at 16 mm ISO 200, fl22 at 0.3 seconds, Gitzo tripod
During the twilight hours just before the sun rises and after it sets, the landscape is cast with a shadowy, blue light, subduing both form and color. If you can beat the sun to the trails in the morning, you will have an opportunity to experience the woods coming alive with sound and light.Being outside to experience sunrise is at once calming and invigorating. As another day breaks, you can hear and see nature begin to stir. Birds awaken with familiar songs, the faint smell of blooming wildflowers may waft by as the sun warms the air and the sunlight beams triumphantly across the landscape, welcoming another day.
I so love this time of the day, particularly because I don’t see it all that often. Not being a “morning” person, I understand the drudgery of getting out of bed early enough to beat the sun to wherever it is I’ve planned to photograph that particular morning.
This image of Delphinium tricorne, commonly known as dwarf larkspur, captures the first beams of light as the sun peeks over a ridge at Radnor Lake State Natural Area in Nashville. Several variables came together perfectly to make this moment successful for me as a photographer.
Preparing for this shoot, I scouted the area on and off for a week before this patch of wildflowers was at peak bloom. Returning three days in a row at sunrise, the variables of wind, weather and the bloom all finally came together on the third day.
Setting up my camera on a tripod and using a wide-angle lens, I chose a very low angle to accentuate the patch of flowers standing 12 to 14 inches tall. As the sun broke over the horizon, I set the exposure on one of the beams of light and then composed this shot.
I set the f-stop at 22 as I wanted to ensure the largest depth of field so the image would be sharply focused from foreground to the background. This f-stop also would allow me to catch the refraction of the sunburst in the image.
I wanted to show the moment sunlight hit the patch of dwarf larkspur, backlighting the blooms in each streak of sunlight. The flowers transformed before my eyes from the deep bluish-purple bloom, seen above in the shade, to their classic vibrant purple. From the moment the sun rose above the ridge, I had about five minutes to shoot before the scene was completely blown out with bright sunlight.
Nature will be my escape this spring, as it has always been. With all the uncertainty of our times, it’s comforting to know that the sun will rise again tomorrow.