Arriving at Black Point in time for the final sunrise of my Eastern Sierra fall workshop is an exercise in commitment. It's about a 30 minute drive, much of it on a dirt road that gets progressively narrower and rougher (and even claimed one tire this year). When the road ends we still have a half mile, cross-country trudge across volcanic sand and a 50-yard slog through soupy sludge before we arrive at the lakeshore. And since I like to have my groups in place 30 minutes before sunrise, we do all this in frigid, pitch dark. But I'm happy to say that this year everyone was up to the task and we were amply rewarded.
While I've never been disappointed at Black Point, there's so much going on visually that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. In the foreground are sandbars and limestone outcroppings that stretch like random stepping stones as far as the camera can see. On calm mornings the water is smooth as glass; on breezy mornings its chop can be smoothed to soft gauze by long exposures. Even on the clearest mornings clouds often hang on the eastern horizon, and sometimes an ethereal mist hugs the lake's surface.
Organizing all this into a coherent composition takes a bit of time. In this image I decided to opt for symmetry, with equal parts sky and reflection. I balanced the visual weight of the curved sandbar in the foreground by turning the sun's first rays into a starburst (small aperture and brilliant point-source of light) for the top half of the frame. I took great care to avoid having anything cut off by the edges of the frame, a particular problem with so many objects in the water. A 3-stop reverse graduated neutral density filter helped moderate the bright sky at the horizon.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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