The dull beep and gentle vibration of my watch wakes me. It’s 4:30 am. I unzip my tent and peer out into total darkness and a sprinkling of stars. Stumbling out of my sleeping bag, I begin to break down my camp site. After loading the Jeep I head down to the trailhead. One last check through the bag to make sure no kit piece is left behind, I don my headlamp and head off into the darkness. The faint glow of the rising sun starts to illuminate the eastern horizon as I meander down the trail toward my destination. Upon arrival, I take a few moments to collect my thoughts and find my vantage point. The air is still, and quiet. The sound of a nearby stream adds to the atmosphere. Everything seems to be anticipating the arrival of the sun. Standing there with the tripod in position, camera mounted and focused, I wait for the definitive moment, or moments if I am lucky, to release the shutter and collect my prize.

Greeting the first light of day, camera in hand. This is what photography is for me. Experiencing new places or familiar places in the most flattering of light makes those cold early mornings when you’d rather be in warm cozy bed worth it. Are you always rewarded with amazing light and beautiful images? Of course not. But I have never regretted watching the sunrise slowly work it’s way down a mountainside, or gradually reveal the beauty of the valley floor. It’s a magical time of day, and one that most people miss out on. The next time you are planning what your weekend will be filled with, try adding “catch a sunrise” to the list. I assure you won’t regret it.

Jonathan Montgomery