through the night to catch the morning

"whew.....i made it." i had just pulled into my destination about five hours later. i had left about 1:15 in the morning as i wanted to arrive before sunrise to catch blue hour and golden hour.


right....let's start at the beginning. about ten miles after leaving, i realized i had forgotten my mask. annoyed at myself, i turned around and headed back. there was no way i was going to go anywhere without it. i can't speak for you, but i simply won't play "russian roulette" with my health. by the time i arrived back home, grabbed my mask and headed out again, it was now 1:45 am. i fretted that i was not going to make it for blue hour but got over that pretty quick. after all, any day out making images is a good day no matter what time of the day it is.


i headed up towards duluth though it was not my stopping point. since i first met my friend gary arands and he guided me around his "stomping grounds", i've been enamored of the area he lives in. this particular day, he was not available as he was taking some people snow shoeing which is what i had hoped to be doing with him. still, i decided to head to my original destination as i had planned on going there before meeting up with him. it was, in fact, one of the areas gary took me to in the past. i'd love to say it was a gorgeous drive. the drive along the north shore is an iconic and beautiful feast for the eyes that has lured travelers for years.


however, being that i left in the dead of night, it was no better than if i was traveling through the gritty underbelly of a metropolis minus the safety factor of getting carjacked or worse. lol. i do love the city and all it offers for photography but one still has to use common sense at night. it was just about the new moon phase with a sliver of a crescent visible. when the moon is full during the winter and snow has blanketed the ground, the scenery can be lit up with this beautiful glow from the moonlight that can be seen even with no headlights.


i'm not saying drive without your headlights by the way. i don't recommend it. just a friendly psa. 🤓


five hours is a long time to drive when it's dark. as it was a boring drive, there wasn't much to keep my interest. tiredness is an issue that afflicts me on these types of drives. i made a couple of stops to shake it off as sleep wasn't an option with wanting to catch the sunrise. it wasn't my first time and it won't be the last time. it's worth the blasé of driving through the night to catch the excitement of the dawning hues of the morning light. i pulled into my destination and, sure enough, like gary said as i had asked, the entry to the side road was built up a bit with snow plowed away from the parking lot. if i had a four wheel drive, it might have been doable. with a ford focus, i was guaranteed to be a laughingstock for others that might arrive after me. i parked the car, threw on my backpack with my camera gear and trekked around the pile onto the road beyond it. there was still a good three to four inches of snow on the road and it was rutted with the tires of those who had more formidable vehicles.


as i got closer to the water's edge, i saw the crescent moon in the sky before me hovering over the top of the pines. as i walked out from among the trees onto the rocky shoreline, i stopped and paused in awe. it wasn't my first time seeing this but the experience is always like seeing it for the first time. it is a rare occasion when the first thing i see at my destination point prompts the making of an image. this is one of them. the horizon was in the beginning stages of erupting with an orange glow. in the distance rose a band of sea smoke. lake superior was beginning to take on a shimmery tone from the light. this first image you see here was made shortly after arriving on the scene. the black line in front of the orange glow is not land. it is sea smoke.



after making this image, i sat down for awhile to watch the morning unfold. being a long exposure image, you don't see it here but the waves were lapping against the rocks. in my mind as i'm hearing impaired, i imagined birds were singing their morning greetings. and for a while, the world didn't seem so insanely off-kilter.




as the morning continued its ascent, i made my way across to where i thought the sunrise would not be hidden by the island as it rose in the sky. my ice grippers were crucial as rocks here and there were topped with snow and ice. slow and steady did not make things any less slippery while i made my way to my next vantage point. turns out that i was way off base. i usually use my photopills app to help me find the direction of the sunrise (it offers ar or augmented reality viewing so you can know exactly where different celestial objects will appear in the sky) but service is spotty in the area. in fact, it was non-existent while i was at this location. but my wrong calculations worked out in my favor! by being further off to the side, i was able to capture the light of the sun as it rose, hitting the rocks and ice throughout in this image. i would loved to have had a more dramatic sky with clouds but considering how long the complete cloud coverage had been to this point (going upwards of three weeks), i was grateful to have a visible sunrise after a five hour trip.




i moved a little further down looking the other way from this image. wispy sea smoke lined the opposite outermost shoreline of the bluffs as the sun's rays started to light them up. of particular interest to all of you that read my blogs regularly, you might remember an image i made that was a panorama catching the sunrise on the outermost point of a bay. i was with gary that time. i'll share it here just in case you don't remember it or haven't seen it. this is from may of 2020.





if you look to the farthest left point of the last image here, that is where i took the panorama image above. gary and i were on the other side of the rocks there.




i spent a bit more time just reveling in the moment. times like these shouldn't be rushed. don't be like clark griswold at the grand canyon in the movie "vacation". unless you pilfered something like he did. then maybe it's time to move on. lol.


i finally packed up my gear and headed back on the rocks toward the road to take me back to my car. while loading my backpack into the trunk of my car, some good old minnesota nice came into play. i struck up a socially distanced conversation for little while with a local resident who offered up a hello. he retired a couple of years ago and moved up north from stillwater. his wife still works down there so they go back and forth for now. he was getting ready to explore on snow shoes.


after a bit, we said our goodbyes. i headed back down hwy 61, or the north shore drive, as well-known of a drive in mn as hwy 1 is in ca. i made one more stop along the shore of lady superior for a bit of image making. as i left, i thanked my friend, Jesus, for the safe travels of the night and the opportunity to have another day to live life to the full.


what are some drives that you have made in the past or in present times that are memorable or favorites? what, specifically, made them or make them such? i'd love to hear your comments on that and any comments and/or questions you have regarding this blog and images. leave them in the comments section below. simply log in with your fb or google account or sign up by entering your email and a password. i will not have access to any of your private information regarding login. for now, this is the only way you can leave comments on my blog within my website. you can also go to my fb page and leave comments there as my blogs will continue to be posted there. this blog allows me more way customization in laying out how i want my blogs to look. but, again, i will continue to post my blogs on my fb page as well. here is the link to it if you want...


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