Sunrise at Solitude, Utah—September 4, 1996

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The Rising Sun on Kodachrome.

Kodachrome was  the best medium for photographing the rising sun.

Sunrise over the tracks
The sunrises at Solitude, Utah on September 4, 1996. The roar of westward train pierced the desert silence as it passed Floy siding several miles to the east. Image exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T fitted with a f4.0 200mm lens. The exposure was calculated with a Sekonic Studio Deluxe hand-held light meter.

I made this photograph with Mel Patrick and T.S. Hoover on the morning of September 4, 1996. We were positioned on the former Denver & Rio Grande Western at the aptly named CTC siding called ‘Solitude’ (population zero) in the desert east of Green River.

Wild fires in Idaho had polluted the air with particulates. During the day this was only barely noticeable, but it made for stunningly red moments at sunrise and sunset since the particulate matter acts as a filter and alters the natural spectrum of sunlight.

Since sunlight passes through more atmosphere at sunrise and sunset than during the height of the day the filtration effect is accentuated.

Kodachrome had two advantages when working with this type of filtered light. Firstly its spectral sensitivity made the most of the red light. Secondly, the inherent quality of the film’s silver grain structure preserved the outline of the sun despite extreme overexposure, while the latitude of the film allowed for an exceptionally broad range for exposure.

Other than the particulate matter in the air, I didn’t use any special filtration to make this image.


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