It was absolutely amazing, this past weekend, to see the difference that fifteen miles can make when photographing a sunrise.  My husband and I decided to drive to the mountains for sunrise early Saturday morning.  In order to get to the destination I had chosen, Roan Mountain, we determined that we would need to wake up at

2:30 a.m. and be one the road by 3:00 a.m. to allow for enough time to arrive at our destination and hike up to the top of Round Bald before the sun rose.

We got off to a bit of a later start than anticipated.  On the way, we contemplated going to a location that was closer to us by 30 minutes.  This was the Grandfather Mountain area.  It was 15 miles from our originally planned destination.

I used the Dark Sky app that my friend and teacher, Les Saucier, told me about to check the weather conditions for both locations.  The skies, according to the app,  in the area of Grandfather Mountain were completely clear.  The skies in the Roan Mountain area were mostly to partly cloudy.  Since sunrises are much more dramatic with cloudy skies, we continued on to our original destination and hoped to make good time.

Once there, we were thrilled that we chose to go for the clouds.  We were not only greeted with amazing clouds and light, but we also found the entire area covered with frost.  There was absolutely none of this in the Grandfather Mountain area.  The combination of the cloudy sunrise and white covering much of the ground and trees made for an amazing photographic experience.

The featured image, above, is one that was taken as the sun rose.  For just a few minutes, there was an intense light show.  In the image below, I love the way the sun lit up the small shrub.

Once the sun was up, we continued to explore the area for scenes that captured the wonderful conditions of the morning.  It was a challenge to keep warm with the below freezing temperatures coupled with the strong blowing winds.

There was beauty at every turn.  It was hard to try to capture it.

Roan Mountain remains one of my favorite places to photograph.  I have never been disappointed by going there.  This visit was one of the most spectacular visits I have had there for photography.

I am thankful that we looked at the conditions and went that extra 15 miles.  If we had gone to the secondary location, we would have had a clear sky sunrise and no frost.  What a different picture that would have been.

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Mary Presson Roberts
Mary Presson Roberts

I am a travel and fine art photographer living and working in the Carolinas. My camera has taken me to places I never would have experienced and to people I never would have met. Photography has truly changed my life! Using my blog, I hope to share the joys of both travel and photography.

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