first light

The First Light Assignment

First Light

I am the Teacher and the Student.

I give myself a lot of assignments. Some bear immediate fruit. Others are long term tasks, designed to develop a “best” practice.

A while back I assigned myself to take a picture of the first light of everyday…

I am really lucky where I live. My front window faces south and I am on the top floor of a building that sits atop the rim of the food plain of a very old river that contains a relatively new lake. I am maybe 45 feet above the water and about 45 feet from the shore. The lake is longer than narrow and lives in a valley that runs East-West (more or less) right in front of my pad.

A quarter mile out in the lake is the approximately 1.7 acre tree covered Big Island, which is a Township Park.

The 975 acre lake is over a half mile wide in front of my place. Horizontally I can see about 2  linear miles of the far shore. Thats a lot of water, trees, Big Island, and sky.

Each day I step onto the balcony with my coffee to see what is going to be lit up first.

first light

The Sun rises to my left and at first overshoots the lake down below. Clouds above the treetops are the first things to glow. Sometimes the clouds catch a great deal of light making the sky above the dark valley look like a projected image.

first light

The sun crests the planet way out east and if the lower atmosphere is clear when the light gets here it is lavender and can, on the best of mornings, strike clouds above the valley from beneath.


All of my teachers will tell you that I consider all assignments subject to interpretation. I do this to assignments I give myself too.

Sometimes I interpret “First Light” as “First Thing Well Lit,” or, “First Thing Lit Interestingly,” and, because its a mandatory assignment, sometimes its necessarily “The Best I Can Do with the First Light Thats Here Now.” Had I not compelled myself to make these captures I would have missed these last two shots, which would have been a shame. I really like the Aluminum canoe.

firstlight canoe
firstlight kayak

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  1. Nancy says:

    I’ve always enjoyed the FirstLight glimpse but didn’t know the backstory. It’s a great thing to be able to savor moments in a space that is the same, and yet different.

    1. Dan Blakeney says:

      Thanks, Nancy. Its been an illuminating project for me. A visual log of how the valley looks throughout the calendar year – AND – from year to year has been proven interesting.

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