Colorful Great Lakes Sunrise

October 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

From the shores of Lake Michigan: Lake Shore Grass at Sunrise

Tree at Dawn, North Dunes Nature Preserve, Lake Michigan, Zion - Chicago, ILTree at DawnNorth Dunes Nature Preserve You find yourself on the western shore of Lake Michigan. What do you do? You go catch yourself a sunrise! Living in Buffalo, NY provides for beautiful sunsets over Lake Erie. However, no sun rising from the wet bed of a Great Lake.

And I am very partial to sunrises over sunsets. While I am sure I have more reasons for that than I can think of right now, I believe it is mostly due to the quiet solitude a sunrise can offer. Sunsets just can't match that. Sunsets at beautiful locations are heavily attended and heavily photographed, which for me takes some of the magic away.

Getting up early in the morning during the spring, summer, and fall months is not something too many people are willing to do. And that buys an advantage to those that do, and that is perfectly fine with me.

And so it was this morning. Alarm clock set for 5:45 a.m., which actually was not bad at all compliments of the late September. The sky was still pitch black and the ground was wet indicating it recently stopped raining. Not the best confidence builder. As I drove north the sky started to brighten up ever so slightly in the east. And when it showed enough light to actually illuminate the sky it was covered with a heavy cloud layer instilling even more doubts, and hope. That dual feeling that clouds before sunrise and sunset brings. Without clouds the events can easily lose most of their magic. With clouds, the sky can be on fire with a one of a kind show. With too many clouds, there may be no sunset or sunrise.

Saluting the Sunrise, North Dunes Nature Preserve, Lake Michigan, Zion - Chicago, ILSaluting the SunriseNorth Dunes Nature Preserve

Saluting the Sunrise, North Dunes Nature Preserve, Lake Michigan, Zion - Chicago, IL

At this point there was no more decision making though. My decision was made when the alarm went off and I got up. At this point it was just a matter of what I'd witness and whether or not I'd be able to capture some natural magic in photographs.

Western Glow of Sunrise, North Dunes Nature Preserve, Lake Michigan, Zion - Chicago, ILWestern Glow of SunriseNorth Dunes Nature Preserve Another thing I was wondering was whether I'd even make it to my location of choice. North Dunes Nature Preserve is open sunrise to sunset. Would the gate be open? Or would I be stuck finding a risky parking spot and walking further than planned possibly running out of time for being in the right place at the right time?

As I headed east on the final leg of my approach I had first one reason to smile, and a few minutes later a second one. The clouds on the horizon parted and the sky started showing some beautiful subtle glow. And yes, the gate was open! Not by much but it was open. The ranger was just a little past the   gate at the first parking lot working on opening the whole preserve. 

After parking, I set up my tripod by a little marsh pond and worked on the intended shot. Once I ran out of compositional ideas I looked around and as often happens to me when I keep my eyes open, several photographs presented themselves. I really liked the trees of the preserve standing tall against the colorful dawn sky!

Couple of them stood as stark silhouettes agains the eastern sky and I tried to find the best angle to do their beauty justice. Then, I turned around to see what the sun was up to in the other direction. And look, there were those beautiful pastel colors in the sky and another tree calling my name. The colors were more subtle and the tree was not a silhouette as I stood where the light was coming from. I did my tripod dance and settled on what you see in the last photo here, a low perspective, with the grass also reaching for the sky. As a final tweak of the scene I played with the aperture always keeping the tree in a sharp focus but varying the depth of field rendering the grass more or less out of focus.

And there you have it, a photographic trio of trees from a gorgeous morning on Lake Michigan. A memorable morning undisturbed by others, moments I had to myself. Another photographer showed up shortly after sunrise and and another moments later but that did not matter to me. For the magic moments of the daybreak it was me with my thoughts and the nature putting on a show. Thank you!

Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you! (#etbtsy)

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