Chasing the Sunrise Part Deux

When my alarm rang on Sunday morning 6am, I almost didn’t want to get up. I could still feel the effects of the wines we’d imbibed the night before, and it was cold out. Plus, I still had to scrape the ice off the car. But I knew I’d kick myself if I missed the sun rise, so I got out of bed.

Completely worth it! As I pulled into Recreational Drive, I could already see the a tinge of red in the horizon. I drove all the way to the end of the Belmont Harbor, where a single car was parked. Another photo enthusiast, belonging to a British dude who had just flown in the evening before. We commiserated about the cold, but gleefully exulted in the almost impressionist scene of soft pastel hues against the distinctive Chicago skyline.

From 2014 January Winter in Chicago
From 2014 January Winter in Chicago

I debated about going out again this morning, given that the forecast was cloudy, with a strong chance of snow. But I popped instantly awake when my alarm rang this morning, and I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so I pulled on the layers and drove out to the lake front again.

Sure enough, the sun was nowhere to be seen. Gone was the gorgeous hues of purples, oranges and reds from yesterday. Instead, the sky was evenly lit a dull bluish grey that gradually lightened as the sun rose from wherever it was hiding. The temperatures had warmed up enough so that the ice in the harbor had mostly melted. I took the opportunity to practice long exposure shots using the tripod and polarizer. I wish I’d brought the ND filter out, but even so, the dim conditions enabled me to get long shutter speeds of up to 10 seconds.

Didn’t stay out as long this time around since the colors didn’t look that exciting. Not a wasted trip though, considering the little effort I’d had to put in to drive out to the lake front. And it was interesting to see (and capture) how much different a day makes.

From 2014 January Winter in Chicago

Other ideas on the shoot list: playing more seriously with the ND filters, taking sunset shots (no need to set the alarm for these at any rate), and evening shots.

Some notes to self:
During the photo shoot… don’t forget about the ISO! In trying to get the foreground water to look smooth this morning, I went with a long exposure, but even with setting the smallest aperture (f30), I could only get the shutter open for 10 seconds without over exposing the shot. It was only after I’d come home that I realized I could have also dialed down the ISO from 400 to say, 100.

Post processing… with the middle sunrise photo, I realized that the ice in the foreground looked really blue. But adjusting the white balance of the photo as a whole cost me the gorgeous indigo hues in the sky. I realized I could use the graduated filter in Lightroom and just adjust for the ice alone.

Speaking of post processing, I’m absolutely fascinated by all the different adjustments I can make in Lightroom to create a completely different picture. It’s been so helpful watching youtube videos and reading articles on tips and tricks for editing in Lightroom, and the FB forum for Stunning Digital Photography readers has been really inspirational and helpful as well. It’s quite amazing really – every time I apply a new tip I’ve picked up, the photo just pops out that much more.

From 2014 January Winter in Chicago

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