When a sunrise goes bust

Change course to salvage a photo trip

The alarm clock goes off at 4 a.m. You drive 1 1/2 hours for what you hope is a stunning sunrise. And nothing happens. Sure, the sun rises, but a cloudless blue-bird sky means there's no interest in the image. No colors. No wow factor. So what do you do to salvage some benefit from the trip?

The answer is to change course and look for other subjects. That's exactly what I had to do over the weekend, after an early morning sunrise trip to Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge went bust.

Fortunately, the national wildlife refuge has other options where I was set up. I watched a roost of snowy egrets behind me while crossing my fingers that some clouds would pop up during sunrise, but those birds woke up and flew off before I finally threw in the towel. Honestly, I should have given up on the sunrise and shot that scene (which is on my list for a return trip).

However, as I started looking around, I water lilies covering the water in a couple of ponds through which a boardwalk meandered caught my eye. That held promise, but I still needed a focal point to anchor an image.

And then I turned the corner of the boardwalk and saw a lily that had been blown up to expose the red underside. Several red stems added to the scene.

I quickly set up my tripod as low to the boardwalk as possible, composed the scene and shot the image at the top of this blog.

The early morning light on the red vegetation was perfect, really making it stand out from the water and the rest of the lily field.

I packed up my gear that morning knowing the trip had been worthwhile.

This beautiful print is now available on my fine-art photography gallery. Click here to see ordering options!