Surprise Sunrise — Better than Fog

Hint of Fog — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

Since I’m always checking the weather to be aware of the possibility for any fog forming in the area, I was happy to see fog was predicted for the morning of Memorial Day, and the forecast remained the same for the two days prior. The two apps I use (Weather Bug and Clear Outside) both indicated fog, yet Clear Outside also showed the temperature would not drop low enough overnight to reach the dew point, so there was a bit of a conflict. Even though fog may have been doubtful, I headed out around 5am under a mostly cloudy sky, but hoped there might be fog over the lake.

Well, there was no fog around at all, so I drove past one of the spots I go to frequently and headed to another favorite sunrise spot, even though at this time of year the sun rises much further north and prefer that spot during the winter months. Of the many times I’ve gone there, I only saw another photographer there once, and it turned out we knew each other. This time someone had arrived before me, but I didn’t know him, so we only chatted after I had set up a little distance away and had been there for some minutes. Things were looking bleak, so we commiserated about our poor luck and had agreed that it was just not to be that morning. And things did not look to improve as the clouds were moving left to right, seemingly making matters worse.

For the image above, the tripod needed precise placement in order for there to be a minimum of intersections among the branches, rocks and reflections. It’s not that an intersection would be fatal, but may have formed a confusing and distracting dark blob within the frame. Since it was possible, and there was no need to hurry for the mediocre conditions thus far, time was taken to maneuver the camera into just the right position. The only thing interesting happening was a small amount of fog forming toward the other end of the lake. It’s difficult to see it, but it’s much lower in elevation than the cloud cover, and all the way to the left of the opening along the horizon, stretching toward the middle, in front of the clouds.

By then, the other photographer had abandoned all hope and packed up his camera, while I mentioned I would stick around a bit longer and then probably head into Raleigh to see what I could find to shoot there in the absence of a good sunrise where we were.

Surprise Sunrise No.1 — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

Well, no sooner did he open his car door to put away his gear, than a hint of color silently skimmed the edges of the clouds overhead (above). My immediate reaction was, “Whoa!! Better get the camera back out, something might be happening here.” I repositioned the camera and took a few horizontal frames and watched amazed as a few puffs of fog formed overhead and began to catch that beautiful raspberry glow along with another small bloom of the color just above the tree line across the lake (below), in bold relief against the backdrop of dark clouds, all of which reflected in the still waters. Meanwhile, the other photographer seemed frozen, and did nothing to get the camera back out to catch these few fleeting moments saying, “I’m not going to bother, I already got what I came for.” I just couldn’t understand that, but I suppose we all have differing goals for our photography; I just kept shooting and enjoyed the show.

By now I had turned the camera vertically to include the high fog that gathered and its reflection along with most of the bloom above the trees. I had run out of real estate to keep some distracting fallen branches out of the frame, and decided later to include them with a second frame to form the basis of what would probably be a square “panorama”, if there is such a thing. And a few moments later, as it did a few weeks prior, the light just as quietly evaporated along with that small puff of fog. It was a beautiful combination of colors, the last remnants of the blue hour, the raspberry glow on the clouds, and a yellow/orange sky along the horizon where a gap in the cloud cover was. And all that was reflected in some pretty smooth water.

Surprise Sunrise No.3 — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

I was lucky to have chosen that spot on that particular morning, because had I continued further on to another location a few more miles down the road, the extra travel time would have meant missing those few moments of color. And of course, that magical gauzy bit of fog that really made all the difference, would be missing. It all happened over the course of just ten minutes, from first hint to fading fast at 6:07am; but these are those special moments that make getting up early so worth while. To witness the glorious beginning of a new day is as refreshing as it is rejuvenating; filling up our spirits to take on the new day. It seems that the lake always has a surprise in store for us, to see something new that can energize anyone. And even though I was not alone as I usually am, as is often the case, I may have been the only person with the privilege to have recorded the events of the morning.

One thing that needs mentioning is that without that little bit of sunlight that made its way through an opening in the cloud cover at just the right time to paint a gauzy bit of fog with extraordinary color so perfectly placed over the lake, the morning’s earlier conclusion of disappointment would have been fully realized. The best image of the morning would probably have been the one at the top, which not much else can be said about it other than it is properly exposed (having combined two exposures in Photoshop). It was fortunate the camera remained on the tripod for the things to come instead of being prematurely put away.

It was another occasion this year when someone guided me to where the show would be, but afterward, now filled with the morning’s energy, there really was nothing left to do but give thanks and pack up. Being only 6:15am, I headed to Raleigh to wander the streets in the early morning light to see what I could find.

Happy Father’s Day to all you Fathers!!

2 thoughts on “Surprise Sunrise — Better than Fog

  1. Pingback: Scatterbrained !!

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