I will be the first to admit I'm not a morning person. I really do wish that the best time for photography was between 10am and 3pm but for many subjects that isn't the case. There's nothing quite like that golden pink glow over the landscape just before the sun comes up.
When you live close to the equator at least you can sleep in to close to 6 or so but when you're travelling closer to either of the poles then photographing sunrise takes on a whole new meaning.
This photograph was taken at the beautiful Lake Mashuuko in the heart of the island of Hokkaido, Japan. It is claimed to be Japan's clearest lake and is absolutely stunning at any time of the year and pretty much at any time of the day.
The day before I had photographed it in the late afternoon under a beautiful blue sky, the air as clear as a bell. But I knew that even though it was beautiful, the 500 other people around me were getting something pretty similar.
To get an image that was different from the rest I needed to get up early. When you're travelling with a 1 year old, your wife and father-in-law the logistics take on a whole new dimension. I was photographing the area for a couple of magazines and the accommodation we'd had arranged for us was about half an hour away from the lake. Sunrise was at about 4am!
Needless to say I went to bed about the same time as my baby son and was snoring before he was. My father-in-law is a keen photographer and he came along to keep me company. And there we were in the freezing pre-dawn light hoping for some magic. We could see in the half-darkness that there weren't any clouds so that was a good sign as we were due for rain. No clouds and not a single other person.
Many people make the mistake of not starting to photograph until the sun has actually come up. As you can see, you get some magic light before the sun actually appears. I had photographed the whole lake with a wide-angle lens but wanted to show the size of the mountains in the background and the small island in the middle of the lake bathed in that gorgeous pink lake. So I put the telephoto lens on and this is what I saw. And I can guarantee the only person who got anything similar on that freezing cold morning was my father-in-law.
Differentiating how you photograph from everybody else, as opposed to what you photograph, can help separate your images from the ordinary. There's not much in the world that hasn't been photographed. Our aim as travel photographers is to show them in a new light.