Capturing a great image is a combination of skill, planning, patience, perseverance and of course a little bit (and sometimes a lot) of luck. Most of all however, you have to be “out there” in the field or you’ll have absolutely no chance to capture any image at all. With these thoughts in mind, I want to talk about the story behind my “Beaming Sunrise” image in this post that I took in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It was Friday October 21, 2011, the last day of our vacation in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Mother Nature had not been kind when it came to good conditions for photographing a sunrise. Every morning thus far had been much too cloudy for any chance at a good sunrise shot. Unfortunately, this morning didn’t look any better but I decided to go out again anyway. During a visit in July 2011 I scouted several overlooks on the Foothills Parkway West that were good sunrise locations, and they were only about a 20 minute drive from our cabin in Townsend, TN. My wife is not a morning person, but since sunrise was at almost 8 AM this time of year thanks to daylight saving time, she decided it wasn’t too early for her. We got to the Foothills Parkway West overlook about 7:15 AM, and it was still very cloudy so we didn’t expect to see much of a sunrise. As we looked out over the fog filled valleys between us and the mountains, it was very quiet and peaceful. I crossed my fingers and hoped that something interesting would happen. I checked my watch, 7:50 AM, the sun should rise any moment now I thought. Just as I looked up from my watch two brilliant red-orange beams of sunlight shot out from behind the mountains like search lights. It was an amazing sight that lasted for no more than two minutes and was gone, and we didn’t see the sun again until mid-afternoon. Although we couldn’t see it from the overlook, there was a break in the clouds just below the horizon that made this incredible sunrise possible. This particular image is the very first shot I took. Had we not gotten up and gone out even though conditions looked bad, we would have missed the “opportunity” to see and photograph something special like this. You just never know what may happen so you have to get up and get out there. I think my wife will get up and go out with me for another sunrise….if it isn’t too early.