You Have To Want It To Photograph Sunrises

I have not always been a morning person. It is something that I have actually been struggling with lately. For a good stretch of time I had gotten myself in the routine of going to bed at 10 PM and getting up at 5 AM every day. It was a good routine for me. Along the way in recent years something broke down. And I haven’t been able to find that fit again and it is really causing me to miss out on some things I have become a little more accustom to. And that is seeing the sun rise.

There was a large portion of my life where I would not have been able to tell you that last time I saw the sunrise. There were a few rare occasions where I would be on a trip somewhere and just happen to be up to see the sunrise. And then I would be able to take a photograph.

One of the first sunrise photos I took that showed me the magic of sunrise. Back in 2005 on a camping trip with my dad and brothers. I added a soft glowing effect.

Being up is not being ready

Although, being up at or before sunrise is not the same thing as being alert and prepared to photograph a sunrise. I have probably seen way more sunrises through the glass of my windshield on my morning commute than through the glass at the end of my camera lens. Sunrises can be beautiful, but just as often are not. And for that reason it can take an extra level of dedication to get up and photograph a sunrise as opposed to a sunset.

Most people are generally going to be awake around the time of sunset. So it is less complicated to plan to be at a particular spot to take a photograph of sunset. Or to at least take your camera with you so you have the option to take a photograph at sunset.

Sunrise at the Outer Banks in North Carolina in 2007. I added a vibrant glowing effect.

Sunrises require dedication

Sunrise on the other hand requires more planning and dedication. I always think that it would be easier to do sunrise/sunset photography in winter because they are later and earlier in the day so planning for them can be simpler. But it is also so darn cold during the months that present those circumstances. So if you want to do that, then it presents that extra layer of planning. How cold will it be when I get up to photograph sunrise and what do I need to plan to wear.

So, there is that aspect of the sunrise game. Planning. It is not my strong suit. If there is a certain location you want to photograph at sunrise you need to plan how long it will take to get there and set up etc. Then you have to factor that into your plans for what time you need to get up. Making an early morning all that much more early.

Sunrise on the coast of Acadia National Park.

There is also the follow through. There are many times I think I am going to get up early and go out and get some photographs. Not even necessarily sunrise early, but just early morning early. But one thing leads to another and your alarm goes off and you just do not feel like getting out of bed. Maybe you went to sleep well last night. Or the dogs heard the bear outside riping down your birdfeeders and woke you up. Or maybe you had a few too many drinks last night. There are just so many obstacles to get in the way of nice sunrise photography.

It just requires an extra level of dedication and commitment. And to be honest it is often a level of dedication and preparedness s that I often find myself unable to commit to.

Now I always try to take a moment to capture sunrise right outside our house when I can.

Accepting sunrises when you catch them

That is why sunrise photography for me often happens in a space where I am already thinking about photography. And in circumstances that naturally lend themselves more to getting up for sunrise. For me this means when I am camping. I love camping and when I camp I am more likely to get up early. And when I am camping I am often at a location that I would enjoy photographing at sunrise. So there are just fewer barriers to me being willing to commit to sunrise photography.

When I am in the routine of getting up at 5 AM every day of the week, which I am hoping to get back to soon, I have begun to think more about photographing sunrise the way I do photographing sunset. If I am awake and see beautiful colors outside then go outside and photograph it regardless of where I am. That means going outside and photographing a beautiful sunrise right at home. Remembering these beautiful moments at home are just as important as remembering them on special occasions.

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