By John Haywood
One of my favorite Winter photographs is of the Olympic Ski Jumps and Mt. Van Hoevenberg with Gothics standing prominently in the background as the rising sun paints the sky.
While getting to this viewpoint is easy, arriving there that morning was not. I started out at about 3am in Albany and made the drive North with a sunrise photo on my mind. The plan was to capture the sunrise from Connery Pond, which lies just outside of Lake Placid.
Upon arriving at Connery Pond Rd., I found it to be cloudy and snowing, which is not surprising due to the proximity to Whiteface Mountain. I decided that I wouldn’t make the half-mile walk down the unplowed road when there was a chance it would be for naught. I had some time and wanted to search for another spot with an opportunity.
From there, I made my way to Norman Ridge Rd. in Vermontville where an incredible view of Whiteface Mountain greets visitors. I thought there would be a great opportunity with the barn in the foreground and the sunrise lighting up the sky over Whiteface. I thought I’d have a chance at the clouds clearing on this side of the peak, but it was not to be. Not only was the peak encased in clouds, the sky around the mountain was blocked out by a solid layer of cloud!
Now what?! Time was running out as the morning light was beginning to creep over the land. Is it one of those days where the planned shot doesn’t happen? Did I really just get up at 3am and drive over two hours only to come away empty-handed?
I headed back through Saranac Lake and to Lake Placid where I had one last hope. I drove up to the Crowne Plaza rear parking lot where I set up my tripod and camera near the fence. Then I waited… and partially froze.
As the sky began to get lighter, the clouds began to separate straight ahead of me where I could see the ski jumps, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Gothics. The sky to the left of me was still inundated with clouds and I felt better about my choice of location. Suddenly, the clouds began to take on shades of orange and pink. I lined up the shot and visualized this as being a panorama. The ski jumps and bobsled run would be the primary subject of this photograph with the sunrise and mountains as the backdrop.
Smoke from fireplaces could be seen floating gently along the trees as the sunrise colors became more vivid and the entire scene opened up from the light. I clicked the remote shutter release a few times to capture this fleeting moment and just as quickly as it began, it was over. The clouds returned to their normal color and the sky got lighter and lighter. I hadn’t yet looked to see what I captured, but was happy I ended up where I did.
The sky never opened around Whiteface and had I stayed at either of the first two spots, this photograph, Olympic Sunrise, would have been lost.
Camera settings –
Camera – Nikon D7000
Aperture – f/5.6
Exposure Time – 1/30 sec.
ISO – 100
Focal Length – 55mm
Exposure Bias – 0