Waiting for the Moment

North Lake, N Fork Bishop Creek (10/10/19) Philip Reedy

Philip Reedy sent this image of photographers standing along the east shore of North Lake waiting for sunrise.

It pays to be up early, not just to wait for the moment when a scene is lit perfectly, but also to have your choice of locations to photograph it.

Elliot McGucken said that on the day he took the photo of North Lake with clouds in a blue sky (posted here, Oct. 11), there were a lot of photogs there in the morning, but no clouds in the sky.

However, he didn’t give up. He returned that afternoon to find that clouds had formed. It so happened that he had the shore nearly to himself. The sunrise photographers that had lined North Lake, like those above, hadn’t returned.

Great photographs need not be taken exclusively during the golden hour. Photographers who take them often arrive early and stay late, as things happen not just during the golden moment, but often earlier or later. 

I remember one freezing night at Tunnel View in Yosemite Valley, when I stood with other photographers, including many locals. After the sun had set, most of the photographers left, but we locals hung on for what developed to be one of the most incredible evenings ever.

The overcast, which had smothered the light broke open at just the right moment allowing pink, orange, purple and red light to turn the night sky into a fabulous, unforgettable painting. 

On another bone-aching night at North Lake, I heard other photographers say “That’s enough,” and leave. But, given what I learned from sticking it out in Yosemite, I didn’t.

You only learn what you missed, when other photographers, who’d seen you there before you bailed, say, “Wasn’t that fantastic, last night?”

After hearing that a couple of times, you learn never to arrive late, leave early or stop waiting for the moment.