Friday, 6 April 2012

Dawnwatch 19/02/2012 Voldemort Dawn

 Dawn from an East-Facing Balcony in Sydney
What you see in the video is the director’s cut.  The photos are selected to represent a significant change during the dawn, and attempts to cull unnecessary intermediate steps.  Culling is hard; I cheat by posting photos that don’t make the grade for whatever reason - incompatible aspect, too long a sequence - here on my blog.  I use Windows Live Movie Maker to make the videos; assemble the photos, add in transition effects, and set the timings.  This free program comes with Windows, and you’ll find it by typing “movie” in the search panel on the start up menu.  With today’s dawn, I really had to be ruthless and cut, otherwise the video would have been hopelessly large to upload.

Voldemort Dawn:  Sunday, 19 February 2012
I should have known I was in for an extra special dawn when ET popped up under the moonlit sky.  Only I never noticed ET was there until I studied a larger version of the photograph on my computer later.  There he was, on the horizon.  As far as I was concerned at the time, the dawn began bright and clear, except with that strange line of cloud stretching across the sky.  But don’t be fooled; the weather on this dawn was utterly miserable.  It was cold, it was wet, it was windy, and the mosquitoes were out in force.  Mosquitoes qualify as dementors working for Voldemort.

The clouds cleared, only to march in again worse than ever.  Dark clouds determined to block out the sun.  Rain clouds - you can tell it’s raining by the slanting lines.  At the same time, as the sun rose below the horizon, a swathe of colour appeared in the sky.  Voldemort’s vortex?  A Death Mark?  At the time of writing, ABC News 24 still occasionally features a picture of this swathe in their weather reports.  If you see it, you’ll know the photograph was taken on the dawn of Sunday, 19 February 2012, because it hasn’t been repeated. 

The colours fade to a golden glow as the red sun rises into the low cloudbank.  As the sun burns through them, the low clouds glow furnace red.  The cloudbank tries but cannot hold the sun imprisoned.  Little puffs of cloud chase themselves across the sky so that the telegraph pole looks like it’s adopted that unhealthy addiction of smoking.  I am watching a rimfire dawn.

The sun rises higher, despite being hampered by clouds, and touches the oak tree on the left.  Dawn is strictly over since the sun has cleared the horizon, but the best is just about to happen right now.  Where’s that ABC photographer?  Packed up his or her camera and gone home too early?  Because now the Dark Lord launches another attack, his most brazen yet, by reaching out a long, dark hand in an attempt to snuff out the sun.  What an awesome sight!

The clouds are on the same plane as the sun.  You can tell by the way the clouds and the sun and the light interact.  These clouds are reminiscent of the landscape scenes painted by the Old Masters (see OldMasters Dawn) and they remind me of a painting I’ve seen in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, but not quite.  The type of clouds and their colouring definitely look familiar.

The attack on the sun fails.  Light prevails over the dark.  The glowing sun emerges victorious through the clouds.  But Voldemort hasn’t finished yet.  He sends his servant Wormtongue on another sun-smothering attack.  Is that or is that not a giant rat or a kangaroo in those clouds?  The scene is changing with every snap of my camera, as the clouds are moving along at a fast clip in the strong winds.  Culling the photos was so difficult!  On this dawn, I took over 500 shots, a record at the time.

As it turns out, Wormtongue was merely the spearhead for the blackest bank of smothering cloud yet.  This time, Voldemort succeeds in his aim of blotting out the sun.  This isn’t really captured properly in the last shots of the video; you need to step back to really understand what is happening.  So I’ve posted a photograph that includes the oak tree here.  Pretty dramatic, isn’t it?

It’s more cold, more windy, and raining harder than ever.  What a miserable morning!  What an epic battle I have witnessed!  Lord Voldemort is triumphant on this dawn, with apologies to JK Rowling.  And I can’t wait to get back inside and inspect my arms.  As I suspected, the dementors - sorry, mosquitoes - had actually flown down my loose long sleeves and left a couple of giant-sized welts several times larger than the dementors themselves.  Dawnwatchers note:  never, ever wear a sloppy Joe with loose sleeves.  Whatever long-sleeved jumper type top you wear, it must have tight cuffs to keep the dementors out.

This dawn is for you, JK.

See 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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