I mentioned in my previous post how, during a recent camping trip, I had spent the night shooting astrophotography shots along Lake Motosu at the base of Mt. Fuji. While I spent the whole night there, my night of shooting didn’t actually end until after sunrise. The colors of sunrise begin quite early during the warmer months, being particularly noticeable from around 4am on. This shot was taken less than an hour later, just short of 5am. It makes for an early morning even if you don’t stay up all night, but it’s worth it to get a view like this.
Of course, it’s not all about the light and colors of sunrise – another factor you must consider in a scene like this is the lake. If there’s even a slight breeze blowing across the water, there will also be slight ripples along the lake surface which prevents nice reflections. This is where an understanding of weather patterns can be useful. The nighttime and early morning is frequently the least windy time of the day. Without getting too specific, the reason is that without the heat from the sun, the air closer to the surface is more stable which prevents the winds higher up from reaching the surface below. This changes fairly quickly however as the sun begins to rise. Within about 15 minutes of this shot, enough of a breeze was blowing across portions of the lake to disturb the glass like appearance you see here. Being there at 4:55am and 5:10am may not seem like a major difference, especially when you’re planning to get up early and thinking about those precious extra minutes of sleep, but the difference can actually be substantial. Of course, this won’t matter as much at the ocean or a river where things are always moving, but along a mountain lake, it’s worth keeping in mind!