One Sunday morning – ok practically the middle of the night- I convinced my husband to accompany me on a quest to shoot the sunrise over the Port of Everett. I knew the exact spot. I had glimpsed in passing these abandoned pilings of piers unused for decades. They had an almost romantic quality. I could see grizzled men tying up tenders and wrangling flotillas of logs. In my mind, the sun would rise slowly over my back revealing the shore bathed in golden sunlight. The tide of course would be halfway out exposing fragile creatures scurrying for cover. The glossy texture of the lazy tide would contrast perfectly with the grit of rock and barnacles. Predatory shorebirds would swoop and soar in the tableau.
Here’s what really happened. I waited forever and then boom- full on sunlight. Why? Because there was a massive hill behind me. Mind you, I “glimpsed” that hill about a thousand times driving by the waterfront. But I didn’t even think of its impact to the light of the rising sun. Needless to say no sunrise pictures were taken that day. Just as I was getting really creative in my cursing about getting up pointlessly at 0 dark 30, my husband spotted in the distance a Great Blue Heron hunting beneath some burned out pilings. I quickly changed to my 600 mm lens and discovered something really amazing. The pilings were covered in nesting pairs of Great Blue Herons. They were hidden from the road by a copse of trees and camouflaged on shore by the scorched wood. It was incredible to watch them interact and feed their young. I got so many great shots that day and went back to watch them raise their young throughout the summer.
On your photographic journey, as in life, be open to the unexpected. Not every shot is going to be what you thought it would be. But there is always a shot to be had. I was so fortunate to have a spotter that day (who incidentally took me out for breakfast after our adventure- bonus). But now I know to look around if what I am looking at isn’t working for me. That’s a life lesson right there. Finally, it’s totally worth it to get up at 0 dark 30. It’s a whole world we are missing out on.