One of the things I most look forward to when I go on vacation is getting up each morning to watch and, hopefully, photograph the sunrise. It has become quite a ritual for me and I try not to let anything get in the way (except for an outright downpour). It is such a glorious experience, with the show that Mother Nature puts on as a bonus. It is quiet and peaceful. It gives an opportunity to see many things you do not later in the day. It is an opportunity to live in the moment. For all it’s benefits, however, sunrise is generally missed by most people. It is definitely their loss.
I always prepare for sunrise the night before. I put all my necessary gear and clothing right next to my bed so I can get out the door within about 5 minutes. As I am always on vacation with my family, and sometimes friends, I do not want to have to fumble around looking for things in the dark. And it is dark. Getting up for sunrise actually means getting up minimally 30 minutes before sunrise as most of the good action takes place before the sun pokes over the horizon. It makes no sense to be late; know exactly when the sun will be rising and plan accordingly.
As you are looking out the window or walking out the door do not let clouds or overcast skies send you back in. Things can, and usually do change, very quickly at sunrise. You can not predict what kind of color you are going to get and must be in position waiting for it. This kind of waiting is enjoyable and peaceful. It is not like the waiting in a doctor’s office or the DMV. Besides, clouds are often your friend at sunrise- a cloudless sky can be rather boring.
For this shot with the pier, there was a solid bank of clouds along the water so nothing was really happening right at sunrise, but I waited patiently and sure enough, as the sun got a bit higher it began to light up those clouds from behind. Vacationing right at the Atlantic Ocean can be great for sunrises as it offers easy access to expansive views and everyday will be completely different from the day before.
Same place, different day.
Notice how much drama the clouds add to this image. I had the good fortune to be at the Outer Banks, NC, during the last SuperMoon. As a was shooting this sunrise, I turned my tripod around 180 degrees and captured the moon setting behind me.
Trust me, once the morning was fully underway, this guy was nowhere to be found.
A few years ago, I vacationed up outside of Acadia National Park in Maine. Cadillac Mountain is the first point along the East Coast that the sun is visible. Getting to such a vantage point definitely took more time and effort than rolling out of bed on the beach. It was also QUITE cold up on top of that mountain. The trade off was seeing a sunrise like I have never seen before. It was breathtaking.
If the extra hour or two of sleep is still more important to you than scenes such as these, so be it. The upshot, I guess, is that my peaceful enjoyment won’t be overrun by sunrise newbies! Happy shooting.