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Posted at 4:30 AM ET, 01/ 8/2008

Photography: Snowless Sunrise

By Kevin Ambrose

Sunrise photo
Sunrise at the reflecting pool, January 5.

The alarm sounded at 5:30am Saturday morning and I slowly got out of bed to check the infrared satellite and water vapor loops on my computer. I find that satellite imagery is the best tool to forecast cloud cover, which ultimately determines a good sunrise. Saturday's satellite images showed that high-level clouds were quickly moving into the DC area from the west, as the clear and cold weather associated with last week's high pressure system exited the East Coast. As much as I like photography and weather, at 5:30am I am always looking for excuses to hop back into bed and abort the photo shoot, such as "too many clouds" or "too clear skies." Saturday morning's weather conditions gave me no such excuses and I packed my camera gear, poured a huge cup of coffee, and headed down Rt 66 East towards Washington.

As I drove down the highway, my car's thermometer showed 21 degrees F and I could see a beautiful crescent moon in the southeast sky, shining through the high, wispy cirrus clouds that I hoped would provide beautiful colors within the next hour, as the sunrise approached.

When I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial there were only a couple cars parked ahead of me and I noticed a few joggers were already out, braving the cold and pre-dawn darkness. A heavy frost coated the ground white and I could see that the Potomac River had ice along the shoreline, extending out into the river about 50 feet. I walked to the Reflecting Pool, which was frozen solid, and set up my camera on a tripod and waited for sunrise. I only had to wait a few minutes for dawn and the shades of yellow to appear on the horizon. Within the next 30 minutes, the color in the sky slowly spread up from the horizon, with the cirrus clouds glowing in shades of yellow and red. I shot about 50 photos from two different locations, changing the exposure settings of my camera as the light of day increased. A couple of the merchandise vendors walked over to me to say 'good morning' and comment about the colorful sunrise. As with most sunrises, the color rapidly disappeared as the sun reached the horizon and sunrise occurred. I quickly packed my gear and walked back to the car, happy that I had made the early morning visit to DC.

Below are a few of the photo details:

Camera: Sony A100
Date/Time: 2008:01:05 07:13:29
Shutter speed: 1/20 sec
Aperture: F8
Exposure mode: Manual
ISO: 100

By Kevin Ambrose  | January 8, 2008; 4:30 AM ET
Categories:  Photography  
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