Early morning. I struggle to lift the covers and remove myself from the warm and protective bed. Both cats seem to know that I should get up, but they were more concerned with my feeding them. As always, they chirp and meow as I scoop their food into the dish, bleary eyed and struggling to concentrate.
With them fed, I look at the clock. 5:00. The cats munch away happily as I leave the kitchen and start to pull on my clothes, carefully laid out in my mind from the night before. My camera gear was already physically laid out, packed for an early morning landscape excursion. Batteries charged, lenses and accessories chosen and memory cards wiped. I'm looking pretty ragged as I lock the apartment door, trying to make as little noise as possible. By this time, the cats have finished their breakfast and are starting their bath. I'm away.
Tim Hortons is about the only place open at this ungodly hour. It's already 5:30, and I don't know where the time has gone. I pull up to the drive-thru and get a muffin and coffee, and the coffee's free. I love Roll-up-the-Rim time, as I usually get a few freebies out of it.
The road to Peggy's Cove is a twisted and breath-taking strip of pavement strewn down the countryside, with intermittent fishing villages and extraordinary scenery. At 5:30am, however, it's very dark and I must be careful. Wildlife can wander almost aimlessly onto the road without warning, and since the speed limit is 80 and I have no one behind me, I just take my time.
It's 6:00am on the dot when I roll into the parking lot at the Peggy's Cove Lighthouse. By now, I've eaten the muffin and finished most of my coffee. I'm feeling pretty awake when the cold air hits me. I brought a flashlight, so carefully I find my way along the rocks to a good vantage point and set up the tripod and wide angle lens. My first exposure of 30 seconds is too dark, looks like I'm going to use bulb mode and go for long exposures. Then it gets challenging: I can't see my watch, it's so dark. I use the flashlight to watch the second hand on my watch to get a 60 second exposure and it looks good.
The only issue is that for each photo I take, the camera has to chew on it for an equivalent time period to reduce the noise. A 60 second exposure is a 120 second long frame. I still have about half an hour before sunrise, so I keep shooting.
At about 6:45, I grab my gear and move about some more, making a frame here and there until I get to a vantage point to watch the sunrise. I was hoping for some light puffy clouds in the sky for extra drama, but I'll settle for warm glowing light.
Once the sun is up, I can take some more photos of the beautiful shoreline and the lighthouse since there's no one around to get in my shot. I work away, looking for interesting scenes, enjoying the crisp air and golden sunlight until about 8 am, when I call it a productive morning. I get back to the car and gulp the last mouthful of the now ice-cold coffee and roll up the rim. I won a free coffee! Time to go home. Time to get the sleep I missed out on.
As I drive back home, I can't help but think of how much photography is like fishing. It's peaceful, calming, and you get better results if you get up and go early. It's also based on dumb luck. Sometimes you get a fantastic morning sunrise, and other times you'll only get overcast skies and boring light.
That's the best part. Not knowing. The risk makes it exciting in a special kind of way, and getting the shot can mean revisiting a location time and again. I think, with scenes like Peggy's Cove being a 30 minute drive away, I can live with that.
Thanks for reading! Cheers!