Favorite Photos of 2018: Chasing the Sun

The countdown to 2019 continues! Each week from Thanksgiving until the New Year, I share one of my favorite photos of 2018, and what it means to me.

Episode Two: Chasing the Sun

I’d consider myself a morning person. But there is morning (with sunlight, hot coffee and the latest Economist), and then there is 4:45am, the unconscionable time my alarm is buzzing to wrestle me away from blissful sleep. I am not a huge fan of that morning. But today I on a mission: I am chasing the sun. With a packed bag and quick splash of water on the face, I am out the door.

As I embark on the 40-minute commute to Waimanalo, it is still much too dark to determine how the morning will unfold. Every yawn is a reminder of the gamble of a good sunrise. Is that ominous cloud cover? A sprinkle of rain? The ground looks rather wet. I press onward.

The gang is assembling in the parking lot as I arrive. We are a ragged band of misfits with one common goal of chasing light. The knowledge that they will be there is motivation for me to do the same. I can’t let the gang down (especially if it is an epic sunrise, because I would never hear the end of it). We grab some flashlights and commence our due diligence for composition and our best guess of lighting (which is still nearly an hour away). I select primary and alternate locations and unpack my gear.

Before the sun breaches the horizon, it becomes evident that the day’s sunrise will cast some incredible colors. Black slowly fades to navy, blue, and then purple as the sun announces its slow ascension. Anticipation builds as I fire off some test shots and review for color and composition. Colors: vibrant and varied. Cloud Structure: dramatic and permitting light. Ocean: smooth and reflecting light. Background: silhouetted in the absence of light. Perfect. It will be a good day.

We are unexpectedly joined on the beach by a local Hawaiian hālau that ushers in the new day with hula and meles (songs). The chants, filled with reverence and passion, harmonize with the ocean tide and fill the morning air with breathtaking melodies. In the soft, golden, morning light, the hula is elegant and captivating. I cannot help but be still and absorb the fortuitous moment. There is a time to photographically capture a moment, and there is a time to simply be present.

While this morning had a serendipitous alignment of variables, there are certainly days that do not materialize as hoped. I have had my share of mud, gale force winds, flash flood rain, and clouds spoiling a good horizon. But while photography can be challenging in these elements, they often produce the best stories.

Each sunrise represents a new day, new adventures, and new life. It is exciting and energetic. What better way to begin a day than in nature with the soft euphony of the ocean surf, an open mind, and [mildly insane] friends? Even when the elements do not fully cooperate, I never conclude that it was a bad idea to try.

I know, it is cruel to offer just one sunrise photo. I couldn’t do that to you! I offer a few honorable mentions of my favorite sunrises of 2018.