Once in a Lifetime

Hold Your Breath


We pay close attention to sunrise and sunset times when we are on location… but most of the time it’s not so much about being there at the moment the sun peaks over the horizon. It’s more about the light before and after that moment. We like to be there a good hour before sunrise – that gives us time to choose a composition, set up our camera gear, and do some low-light photography as the light begins to change.

The subtle magenta color you see on the mountain in this shot is called “Alpenglow”. It happens well before sunrise – this shot was taken nearly 20 minutes before the sun rose – and the colors started changing rapidly from that point on. The alpenglow faded as the sky began to glow in the East. By the time the sun appeared, the glow was long gone, replaced by rich golden light and a rainbow over the lake.

This was a tough shot to capture – more because of rain and splashing waves than particularly difficult camera settings. I wanted a 30 second shutter speed for a smooth opalescent effect… so I chose my settings accordingly. (f/8.0, 30 seconds, ISO 200.) Then, I wiped my lens clean and hoped for the best. I took three shots before the light faded – and only this one was was free of water droplets.

I’ve always loved long-exposure photography for the slightly surreal or dreamy effect it produces. What would you have done in a situation like this? Would you have been there in time to capture the glow? Or would you be kicking yourself later? :) I sure hope you wouldn’t have missed it!

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