Monday, February 27, 2012

A Tale of Two Sunrises


On the first morning of my recent trip to Mount Desert Island in Maine, I did what any good photographer would do... a pre-dawn start for a sunrise shoot. Munching on a breakfast of a half eaten Snickers bar left over from the night before, I charged out of the hotel lobby and right into a face full of wind-blown drizzle. Undeterred, I jumped in my car and made way through the dark rain to Acadia National Park's Loop Road and headed towards Monument Cove.

I used the overhang of my SUV's rear hatch to assemble gear out of the weather. I stuffed lenses in my rain jacket's pockets to avoid bringing my camera pack out in the gale, mounted my camera to the tripod and, most importantly, wrapped a rain cover over my camera and lens. Read rain cover as a trash bag.

There wasn't a soul around. No traffic. No sound except the rain hitting my hood. In three or four months this will not be the case here in one America's most visited National Parks. The temperature was low enough that there was still ice to ruin my day with a fall if I wasn't careful, so I took my time picking my way down the rooted cliff trail. As I stepped on to the cobble beach at Monument Cove, the sky was brightening. But, minutes before sunrise, I still couldn't make out the point on the horizon where the sun was supposed to appear. I set my gear and made a photo with my iPhone.

Monument Cove-3.jpg

An hour and half later, I climbed out of the cove feeling wet, cold and disappointed. The sun never appeared and gray was the color of the day. And still, as I shook off the drizzle and packed my gear, the predominant thought in my head was "Good times!". Back in Bar Harbor, I sat in the Trailhead Cafe and drank coffee while previewing the morning's images on the back of my camera's LCD screen. The photographs seemed a total bust. At home, taking a look at the photos on a computer screen I realized that in gray, there is always the opportunity for Black and White.

Monument Cove-1.jpg

Monument Cove Morning 1

The next morning, I woke up later than I should have. It was still before sunrise, but the previous morning had sapped today's motivation. I made myself get up and open the slider that overlooked Frenchman's Bay. I could see the horizon beginning to brighten but once again there was rain in the air. If I was going, I had 25 minutes to get dressed and get somewhere for a sunrise shoot. At that moment, I really wanted to be the type of person who could crawl back in bed and sleep. But I've never been that way and once I was up, there was no turning back. I jumped into clothes and was off. Again, not a soul on the road, which was a good thing because I made it back to Monument Cove in record time. The rain had stopped and I grabbed my pack and tripod and scrambled to the beach. Somehow I didn't kill myself on the drive or rushing down the rocky slope and was ready when the clouds opened just before dawn to let the sun shine on the horizon. My thoughts were the same as the day before... Good times!

Monument Cove Sunrise

Sunrise Tide

If you're a photographer hoping to capture Acadia, then I encourage you check out Jerry Monkman's book "The Photographer's Guide to Acadia National Park" for great hints on where and when to capture the best images.
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