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1 Feb 2017

Early Morning Light

Barnacle Goose © HIH Princess Takamado
Barnacle Goose © HIH Princess Takamado
By HIH Princess Takamado

'Through the Lens', Fujingaho Magazine, February 2017

Click here to view pdf

Photos and text: Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado

English Translation: Asia Club, a WBSJ Volunteer Group (YOKOYAMA Kazuko and KASE Tomoko))

Curiously enough, most non-birdwatcher friends of mine look quite surprised, when I say, “I leave home for birdwatching at 5 in the morning”, while they take it for granted, if it is golfing or fishing in mountain streams. 

Many birds go into action with the sunrise, as an English proverb says; The early bird catches the worm.   Believing it best to move along with birds, I always try to be on the scene so early.

Black-headed Gull © HIH Princess Takamado

When I go birdwatching, I take that occasion to photograph birds; therefore the condition of the light is very important.   While I wish for a sunny weather, in fact, too sunny a weather is not so desirable, for shiny sunlight enhances the contrast of a photo too much.

Such a strong light does not reflect the beautiful colors of the plumage of birds, and what is more, the sunlight spilling through leaves causes patchy patterns over the objects.   When a bird flies against the shiny sky or perches on top of a tall tree, its image comes out dark in the photo.   In such a case a good photograph cannot be obtained even by fixing the diagram.

Black-headed Gull © HIH Princess Takamado

On the other hand, if we try to get up early, we can easily catch the beauty of the plumage in the early morning light.   In addition to the light coming sideways gets into a bird’s eye and brings a clear image of a bird.   A talented photographer would be able to create good photos even under or in the shiny midday sunlight, but, alas, difference of skillfulness would’t be overcome.   Yet, the early morning light is so kind even to an amateur photographer like me to let him take decently nice photos.

So I never become disappointed with pictures I photographed and that is why I would go out to the scene again with the heavy camera on my back.  The early morning light is exactly a great teacher, encouraging me to improve my skill with compliments.

Whenever I inhale a fresh air deeply at dawn on the river or in the mountains where birds are likely to visit, I feel myself very happy for being able to make time to be there.

It is said that basking in the morning light is good for health, too, for it drastically reduces secretion and as a result serotonin secretion is kept normal.   Decrease of melatonin activates our brain and arranges the rhythm of our body and normal secretion of serotonin leads to emotional stability.

Greater White-fronted Goose © HIH Princess Takamado

Thanks to going out in the early morning light, I have obtained this pleasant sense of fulfillment naturally, without depending on any vitamin , tranquilizer or other supplements.  On that point I cannot but feel quite lucky.  Let me introduce the Japanese version of the proverb I mentioned above; Early riser gets three pence.  A perfect expression, isn’t it?

Cackling Goose © HIH Princess Takamado


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