Ka awatea

Fujifilm X-T2, XF 16-55/2.8

ISO 1250, 1/250s@f8


I have taken to greeting each day in meditation. Or rather bowing to the very beginning of a day.  

And where is the beginning of a day anyway? Is it when the sun is rising or when it has risen? Is it at zero degrees above the horizon, or at 10 or even 15? Or is it at the delicate point where the darkness lifts ever so slightly, when the blanket of the  night begins to release its grip on the land, gently allowing the merest sliver of undark to peel the two apart? This is usually as much as two hours before the sunrise indicated on my Ephemeris. That time when a subtle knife begins prising the two halves of the paua shell apart, when the wonder of the night is reflected in the wonder of the day, and the wonder of the day is reflected in the wonder of the night. Ah, yes, the day. Te Ra. Te Ra is the day, and Te Ra is the sun. The sun defines the day, and the day defines the sun.

So, I step outside my whare, walk to the water’s edge, and look across the harbour for a time, chant a karakia I have been taught, and then return to the bottomless joy of meditation for a while, sinking ever deeper into the Infinite Ocean until I have parted from my body for a time. I may be away for 30 minutes or perhaps even an hour. It will be as it will be. For a time I am, and I am that I am. Who will I say has sent me? I AM WHO I AM. I am has sent me to you.

Once again, I return to the water’s edge and observe the position of the tide, noting that each day at the same time it is both retreating and advancing. It is all a matter of perception. Occasionally (on most days) a matuku, a white-faced heron, will be wandering along the rim of the tide or picking its way purposefully past. And at odd and even times of the year, the spoonbills are there, sweeping their mixing-spoon beaks industriously through the water, as they leave no foam unturned in their search for kai. The village is still silent. The cafes are shut, the ferry is asleep and the FoodMart is still shuttered. There are only the birds, the occasional mullet jumping, and the inexorable clamshell of the night peeling open, moment by moment. And the sun is just a yawn away, over the hill at Hapanga.

And it is time for a camera. Let us celebrate the birthing of a new day with a camera. Photography is, after all, a form of meditation. At least it can be. So, I rummage around and find one. I check the batteries and make sure that it has a memory card.

 Then, in the half-light, I walk across the road to Jill’s gift shop. I have borrowed the key, so I let myself in, and slip past the warm smell of the incense, past the earrings, carvings and curios, and i ease out the back door onto the small deck. The tide is in, and it slithers and whispers below my feet, on the underside of the decking. I can feel the subtle energy of its rhythm murmuring beneath me.

I find a seat (note to self: come out here in the evenings and watch the day turn away from the east), and settle to wait for the sun, for Te Ra.

At first the high cloud has an embarrassed blush, but that soon passes, as the morning gains confidence. Then an orb of orange begins to form above the strangely-symmetric row of trees which march up to the crest, pause for a moment, and then march down the other side.

Is there a right time to make a photograph? Is there a single moment which sums it all up? Is it now or in a minute or an hour, or has the prime moment passed? That is the photographer’s eternal conundrum. Perhaps every moment is the correct/best/decisive moment? Choice presented as small slivers of time. A sliver appropriated, and then inflated so it floats on the winds of Eternity.

Too much thinking. And not necessary. Monkey Mind as the arch-enemy of the Silence of the Infinite.

Shut up.

Just make pictures.

Meditate into that space between self and scene seen. Dream into your camera. Just be. The joy of photography.

And there, hovering above the sun, in the undarkening sky, almost not there, like an angel, is one long but subtle cloud, etheric, a suggestion of possibility and new beginnings.

The sun is rising. The sun has risen.

A new day has begun.

Ka awatea.

It is dawn.


Photographers Notes:

Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55/2.8 (no filters).

ISO 1250, 1/250s@f8.

I no longer worry about ISO with this camera. It is noise-free up to ISO 6400.

 I am getting over the ETTR philosophy with the X-T2.It is like old-school transparency film. I expose for the highlights, making sure they do not clip, and develop for the shadows.I set the camera to Auto ISO, the shutter to 1/250s and the aperture to f8 and then used the exposure compensation (at C) on the front dial until the sun came right( about -3 stops).

When it looked right I pressed the shutter. Then pulled out the cloud in post.

This time I used C1Pro 10 for the RAW development.

Plus a few PS tricks.


8 Responses

  1. Peter Harper says:

    It is so nice to see you free at last. Your beautiful words make it so. Blessings, blessings, Dear One. Come and see us if you’re passing through Oamaru. Peter.

  2. Robyn Young says:

    Very much enjoyed reading your account of your start to the day. It sounds very spiritual and fufilling You certainly live in a very special part of our beautiful country. We were up in Paihia in November the weather wasn’t great but still enjoyed the environment. If we had more time I would’ve paid you and your gallery a visit. Another time..

  3. Max Ross says:

    Very familiar territory Tony, most mornings I shuffle my near 78yo bones out onto my east facing high-rise balcony and wait for the birds to start up in the trees, well below, as I sip my first cuppa. At times I’m rewarded with absorbing colours and shapes as I wait quietly (and thankfully) for the new day to expand. So many sunrise photos, and yet I take more – and my old Fuji XP1 and XE1 still produce well with auto ISO6400. Love both your words and the photo Tony, keep it up.

  4. Tony Bridge says:

    Lovely to hear, Max.Beautiful kōrero…

  5. SYD MOORE says:

    LAD you are-seem to be evolving to even more profound SPIRITUALITY recently >>>>>>
    ELSAEED /Syd Moore

  6. […] an earlier post, I talked about lessons to be learned from the dawn and the breaking open of the […]

  7. richard gemmell says:

    Respectful and appreciative of the world around us, as ever. Nice to read the photographers notes also. Tihei mauri ora.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All original content on these pages is fingerprinted and certified by Digiprove