Up at 4 AM, my friend Connie and I planned to arrive well before sunrise to capture the vibrant colors of dawn. Getting lost on our way was not part of our plan and had us running to set up as the pink sky began to fade. Within minutes of our arrival, the color dissipated and another photographer (who had clearly been there for some time) packed up his gear and left before the sun crested.
I, too, figured the show was over and zipped my camera back into my pack. We considered leaving but decided to enjoy the morning, hanging out and chatting about camera settings while watching the sun crest over the horizon. The sunrays arrived slowly, one at a time until the valley was filled with their glorious streaks.
I was determined to capture this challenging light all in one shot. (I didn’t want to use different exposures to create an HDR image.) While shooting close-ups throughout the scene, I had my heart set on the big picture, so I waited (and hoped) for the sun to rise just above Mt. Hood so I could include the mountaintop but exclude the direct sun. Thankfully, my patience paid off, and as the sun cleared my shot, it was still low enough to maintain the sunrays. Perfect.
This image could have easily been titled “I almost walked away.” Lesson learned: it’s not always over when the colors fade. Sometimes, enjoying the moment leads to more spectacular images than what you had originally envisioned. - Lori Grimmett
Equipment and settings: Nikon D800E, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II telephoto zoom - 70mm - 1/400th @ f/11 - ISO 100