Stages of Sunrise

I spent some good time outside this past weekend, including an expedition on the North side of Mt. Hood (stay tuned for more on that), but another highlight was a couple hours on Monday morning sitting on the ground in a clear cut. I was staying with a friend in the hills on the Western side of the Hood River Valley (It was a lot more temperate this time than the last time I was there.) and we decided to get up early to watch the sun rise. We bundled up, and set out by the light of a half moon to a hilltop clear cut near her house.

5:20 am. You can't see them, but the stars are beautiful, and clear light is coming through the trees from the half moon over Mt. Hood

5:20 am.

5:20 am: You can’t see them, but the stars are beautiful, and clear light is coming through the trees from the half moon over Mt. Hood.

5:30 am

5:30 am

5:30 am: It’s still night.

5:40 am. The first peek of light on the horizon.

5:40 am.

5:40 am: The first peek of light on the horizon. Around this time, I started to notice a very light breeze, but I don’t know if it arose or I just became aware of it.

5:50 am Still not much light, but the stars are gone.

5:50 am

5:50 am: The stars are gone at this point, and the little light by which I can see in front of me is coming now from the sunrise, not from the moon.

6:00 am Starting to be able to see further. A lone raven call.

6:00 am

6:00am: Starting to be able to see further. A lone raven call. On the sun side of the horizon (shown here), the light is warm, but on the moon side, over snowy Mt. Hood, the light is still gray-blue and cold.

6:10 am. At this point, my vision of the world around me is unimpaired by darkness. Starting to hear a couple more birds.

6:10 am.

6:10 am: At this point, my vision of the world around me is unimpaired by darkness. Starting to hear a couple more birds.

6:20 A second raven calls from a different direction, then another one from another spot. They seem to have a conversation.

6:20 am

6:20 am: A second raven calls from a different direction, then another one from another spot. They call back and forth a bit.

6:30 am. All three of the ravens come into the open separately and fly away. A few other twittering birds.

6:30 am.

6:30 am: All three of the ravens come into the open separately and fly away. A few other twittering birds.

6:40 am. At this point, I watch the disc of the sun actually break the horizon in the course of just a few minutes. Lines up perfectly with the "scheduled" sunrise time for the day.

6:40 am.

6:40am: At this point, I watch the disc of the sun actually break the horizon in the course of just a few minutes. I just looked it up, and this lines up perfectly with the “official” sunrise time for the day.

6:50 am. The sun is all the way above the horizon and shadows appear on the manzanita leaves and everywhere else. Amazing how much this changes things. I can see the silhouettes of individual tree tops on the furthest horizon.

6:50 am.

6:50am: The sun is all the way above the horizon and shadows appear on the manzanita leaves and everywhere else. Amazing how much this changes things. I can see the silhouettes of individual tree tops on the furthest horizon.

7:00 am. It gets brighter, more bird sounds.

7:00 am.

7:00 am:It gets brighter. More bird sounds.

7:10 am. Sun getting higher. I don't know if I can now see wispy clouds in the sky better, or if that's another change that has taken place in the last two hours.

7:10 am.

7:10 am: Sun getting higher. I don’t know if I can now see wispy clouds in the sky better, or if they’ve moved in while I’ve been sitting here.

7:15 am. Sun rises high enough to go behind a bank of those wispy clouds, dulling the light and shadows. Wish I could stay to see what happens next, but I've got to run if I'm going to make it to work on time!

7:15 am.

7:15 am: Sun rises high enough to go behind a bank of those wispy clouds, dulling the light and shadows. Wish I could stay to see what happens next, but I’ve got to run if I’m going to make it to work on time!

Notes for Next Time: This was a great way to start the day! I’d like to do it again to see what else I notice.

A few things I’ll think about next time I do this:

  • It was great to be out in the open, and to able to see both the sun as it came up and the moon as it went down.
  • Being on the ridgetop also meant I saw the sun’s first and most direct light. It would be interesting to try doing it under tree cover to see how long it takes the light to get to the forest floor, or behind a ridge to get the double sunrise effect — first when it hits the sky, and the second time when it crosses the ridgeline.
  • Perhaps I need to start a new category of posts about light, to follow this one and this one?
  • It looks like planning for about 70 minutes before “official” sunrise to 40-60 minutes after would be pretty good timing. I would have stayed just a little bit longer if I hadn’t needed to get to work on time.
  • I might find something to set the camera on for more consistently composed pictures.
  • I need some photography tips! My cheap point-and-shoot auto-adjusts exposure, so I don’t think my pictures quite accurately reflect the subtleties of the changing light. What could I do about this?
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