The time around sunrise and sunset is often called the “Golden Hour” or “magic light” by photographers and for good reason. Light at this time of day can really transform a landscape into an awe-inspiring view. Personally I believe that all landscapes have an inherent beauty and it is up to us to see that beauty. Nature’s beauty is always present of course, but at the right moment, at the edges of the day when the skies light up with color and the world around you is lit by soft evening light, the natural beauty of the world can really be transformed into something, well…magical. It is really cool to be there when that happens and try to create a photograph that captures your experience of that moment.
Being out for “magic light” at the end of the day is not a problem, but if you aren’t a morning person, being there for magic light at the beginning of the day can be a challenge. I don’t remember where I read this, but I’ve heard people say that a very important piece of equipment for a landscape photographer is an alarm clock (or 3 in my case!). Fresh donuts aren’t a bad incentive for getting up early either, but long-term that is probably not a good incentive to use for every morning J
I occasionally catch some flak from fellow photographers about not being a morning person and I often joke around about that. The truth is though that I don’t mind getting up early, so it’s not that I’m not a morning person. My problem is that I’m more of a night person so I stay up too late to make early mornings fun. Honestly, it isn’t so much that I’m actually a night person either, it is more that I’m a procrastinator and end up staying up late to finish things (like blog posts).
So off and on I work on getting my schedule under control so I can more regularly get up in the morning for sunrise. In the fall, sunrise is a bit easier to make it up for. Right now for example sunrise is at ~7:30, not really that early. In July, sunrise is closer to 6:00…not so convenient. Hopefully, though, the habits I’m working on now will be helpful for getting up for those July sunrises…
(click on any photo in this post to enlarge)
An added benefit of getting up for sunrise in the fall is the fog coming off the lake near me. The photo above is one I made at Stockdale Cove this fall. The fog covering created a nice atmosphere for this photo and transform the scene into something different from what you might expect.
I photograph a lot at Stockdale cove in the early fall because the sun rises right down the cove, creating some really interesting conditions and reflections. Stockdale cove is in a well-protected area and so the water is often still…great for reflections. Stockdale is also a good location for birds and the birds really added a nice touch to both the photos above.
I know I’ve mentioned before that I really love the sound of water and often I’ll go out in the evening and sit on the shore of Tuttle Creek Lake and listen the waves while I wait for sunset. I’ve also been doing this on a few mornings lately. This photo is from a small cove along the western side of Tuttle that I like to visit. A really peaceful location and I can be there in about 10 minutes. In the photo above, I used a shutter speed that allowed the waves to still show. A slower shutter speed would have smoothed out the surface of the water more and maybe not conveyed that “sound” that I wanted to come across in the photo.
The River Ponds below the dam at Tuttle Creek are also a place I’ve been visiting a lot recently for sunrise (and sunset). Any time I’m out with my camera I’m always glad to see partly cloudy skies. The clouds on this particular morning created some fantastic colors and reflections to work with. Any time I get to be out and enjoy nature is going to be good for me, but when the conditions work out to create a scene like on this particular morning….wow! How fortunate to be there and witness this!
I know there are people that can routinely get up in the morning before sunrise and I may not ever be one of them, but I’m going to continue getting my life ordered to give me a better shot at it (along with my 3 alarm clocks). Some people consider photographing sunrise and sunset as cliché. I’m still going to do my best to take in as many sunrises and sunsets as I can. And I’m going to continue to see what photographs I can create of the magic combination of nature’s beauty and the great light at the edges of the day. It does my soul good and that’s enough for me.
Stop by and check out my gallery “Stillness of Water” on my website…there is a surprising number of sunrise photographs in there.
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