Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Dawnwatch 09/02/2012 Old Masters Dawn

Dawn from an East-Facing Balcony in Sydney
Dawnwatchers must rouse themselves out of bed early.  This is an essential requirement.  It's difficult waking up in the dark every morning, even for insomniacs, but you get into a routine.  A quiet routine, because nobody else cares to be woken before dawn.  Today I slept in and missed - I dunno.  It happens.

Old Masters Dawn:  Thursday, 9 February 2012
It was around the telegraph pole that all the action was happening.  To begin, I must ask you to ignore the telegraph pole.  Got that?  Imagine these scenes without the telegraph pole. 

I awoke to find the pre-dawn pinks had already started.  The horizon was a busy scene, with blobs and blotches of colour everywhere.  If you’ll note the ginormous size of the telegraph pole that I’ve just asked you to ignore, you can see I was at maximum close-up, and still there’s these little itty-bitty wisps and puffs of coloured cloud right across the sky.  A painter gone mad?  I’ve set this video to slow all the way to cater for the fact there’s so much busy-ness to observe in all of the photo scenes.

One large cloud in the sky briefly turned a stippled pink; I’ve posted a picture here.  It’s not included in the video because I deemed it an unnecessary distraction from the focus around the telegraph pole that you’re pretending is invisible.  Just so you don’t miss anything.

When the clouds turn purple and yellow, it really starts to look like a canvas oil painting, and those sweepy strokes are painted by the hand of a human artist, not the wind.  But when those low cumulous clouds turn grey-brown, and the high clouds are a sweepy yellow, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of recognition.  Have I seen this scene before somewhere?  Have you? 

There exists an oil painting of these magnificent clouds, of this very dawn, over a flat rural scene of tiny farming figures and haystacks.  It hangs in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and it was painted by one of the Old Masters.  Hundreds of years ago, artists in Europe witnessed dawns like this, and recorded them for posterity by painting them in oils on canvas.  I remember studying this picture in the art gallery and thinking, there’s a layer of yellow grime like butterfat on this painting, and why did the artist paint the clouds that pale grey-brown shade?  Now I know the artist was painting those clouds and that dawn exactly as he saw it all those years ago.  These photos prove it.

As the dawn progresses, the red sun rises through the low cumulous clouds against a backdrop of painted yellow sweeping clouds.  Briefly, the sun disappears inside the clouds; this is happening very rapidly.  I’m snapping away as fast as possible, and every image captured is different.  Then I’m treated to a second dawn, where the sun rises anew from the clouds.  As witnessed by the Old Masters who were inspired to paint dawns like this into their landscape paintings hundreds of years ago.  It’s wonderful to think that we can enjoy the same dawns today that inspired such artistic genius, as long as we get out of bed early enough and on time.

Watch the video on YouTube here.

Souvenir posters and mugs of this dawn are available from the Gagothicfunk store at as displayed below:

Don’t forget your humble photographer also writes fantasy adventure fiction under the name of S E Champenby.  Paperbacks and epubs available from at S E Champenby’s store.

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