This was captured on a backpacking trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The waterfall you see in the photo is the final plunge for Chapel Creek before it empties into Lake Superior. It always makes an interesting cut through the sand – but – you just never quite know what path it’ll take. Most of the time, it likes to wind off to the right, but a gale force weather event pushed the sand back in, making the new cut anybody’s guess.
Even with that wildcard in mind, I decided to use this for my morning location the next day. Additionally I couldn’t help but think this little waterfall might be a really cool foreground for some sunlit clouds over the lake at dawn. Of course, if the creek cut the wrong way, it’d be a no-go. With the waves still pummeling the shoreline, I’d have to wait till morning to see if there was actually a shot.
I retired to my tent with raindrops lightly tapping the nylon and grand sunrise images dancing in my head.
The next morning I awoke early and hurried to my spot – and was THRILLED to see the cut in the sand – it was perfect for the image I had in mind. However, the light was nonexistent. Cold, steel grey clouds threatened to ruin the morning’s shot.
I knew from painful past experience that at times like this you STILL set up your shot because you never know what’s going to happen. I knew the chances of getting a shot were slim, but I stood there in the creek, tripod setup, cable release in hand anyway. I didn’t have anything better to do, so why not?
I stood there and watched as the sky grew slightly brighter, but still no real hint of color. I contemplated the gentle waves as they lapped at the shoreline, amazed that just last evening they were viciously attacking the beach without mercy. How quickly things change…
Then it happened - one low hanging cloud intercepted some brilliant red light from a struggling sunrise! My jaw dropped at the scene and I quickly gathered myself and started snapping away. It faded away just as suddenly as it appeared, the whole show lasting under a minute. All I could think was “Thank God I was already set up and ready to shoot!”