Sometimes, the best part of the sunrise happens after the first colors start to fade. Learn to wait for what might come next.
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Sunrise at Glacier National Park
“Want to get up early tomorrow morning and shoot photos of the sunrise?” I asked my friend Julie as we sat around the campfire.
“That sounds like fun,” she said. “What time were you thinking?”
“Let’s leave around 5:45 and drive over towards Many Glacier Hotel. Maybe we’ll catch something pretty.”
With only a few days left of outdoor school at Glacier National Park, I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to take photos. I knew Julie had a keen interest in photography, and I knew better than to go out alone in bear country.
The next morning, we arrived at the parking lot for Many Glaciers Hotel just as the sky started to lighten. We shivered as we walked around looking for the perfect spot to set up. I had done no advance scouting and didn’t even know for sure where the sun would make its appearance.
I picked a likely spot on a bridge spanning Swiftcurrent Creek, a mid-sized stream that tumbled over rocks on its way down towards Lake Sherburne. As luck would have it, I picked a good spot. After twenty minutes of beautiful sunrise color, Julie decided to go into the lodge to find coffee and a bathroom.
I had found an American Dipper bobbing in and out of the current like a freshwater penguin. Despite my love of coffee, I decided to hang around until the light got good enough to capture pictures of the bird.
Not three minutes after Julie left, the sky took on a radioactive red hue that reflected off the tumbling water and lit up the wet rocks from within. I pulled my phone out to call her but had no service.
Wait for It
I snapped furiously, hoping to catch the spectacular sunrise with my puny skillset. Just as the last radioactive red colors faded from the sky, Julie returned with two steaming cups of coffee.
“I’m so sorry,” I told her as she handed me a cup.
“I missed it, didn’t I?” she shook her head. “I saw the sky change just as I entered the lodge, but my bladder insisted I go inside.”
“And I tried calling you,” I told her, “but I had no cell service.”
“It’s ok,” she said. “I guess I learned my lesson.”
“What do you mean?”
“When you think a sunrise is over, wait around and see what happens next.”
Her words stayed with me, and I’ve discovered they apply equally well to life. In my rush and bustle to get on to the next thing, I often miss the last, amazing dredges of beauty, grace, or inspiration.
All I need to do is learn to wait for it.
Come Back Tomorrow
Come back tomorrow for tips on shooting better sunrise photos!