Getting the Shot: Norman Ridge Sunrise

by John Haywood

Over the last couple years, I’ve made a handful of attempts at capturing “the perfect sunrise” from Norman Ridge Road in Vermontville. Each time, I’ve been stifled by the weather. The trouble is the one day a week I get to make the over two-hour trip up there bright and early in the morning hoping the forecast holds. Anyone who knows the Adirondacks knows how the weather just does whatever it wants; especially when there is a High Peak involved.

If you’re not familiar with this location, there is a small barn/shed, with a small tree next to it, in an open field that leads to a sweeping view of Whiteface and Esther mountains. The sun will rise from behind the range and offer numerous opportunities for different photographs. Some mornings, the sky will turn a stunning deep magenta as the sun begins its ascent.

On this particular morning, I was coming from Lake Placid where I had spent the night so I arrived with plenty of time to spare. This allowed me the chance to view the amazing, star-filled sky. The temperature was -1 degree and there was a constant breeze blowing across the snowy field.

I set up my tripod and camera with remote shutter release once I saw the first glimmer of sunlight in the distance. I noticed there was a bank of low clouds masking Whiteface that made themselves visible as the light grew. There were also low clouds off in the distance as well, which meant the sunrise may not offer the spectacular colors I was hoping for; at least not immediately.

I tolerated the cold for about 45 minutes when the first hints of color began to paint the clouds. The low clouds had delayed any color from coming through however, once the sun had risen to a certain point, it was able to give once last push. The clouds then lit up in the sky above the small barn as I lined up my shots. Whiteface never made it out of the clouds so my full attention was on the barn and small tree. I envisioned this shot to be a panorama as I composed the scene.

The reason I was thinking panorama was to tighten the view in order to draw viewers into the scene and to put focus on the barn and tree. I also placed them off-center to the left in order to add balance and to again, add focus.

The clouds never took on that intense color, but I was pleased with the outcome of a softer color that really highlighted the scene on the ground nicely. It’s not the most amazing sunrise photo ever made, but it’s a keeper in my book.

Exposure details:

Camera: Nikon D750

Aperture: f/8

Exposure time: 1/250

ISO: 100

Exposure bias: 0


We are proud to have the “Getting the Shot” series sponsored by Metro Mattress. New York State’s oldest and largest mattress retailer. Family owned for more than forty years.metro-mattress-ny-logo-2


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