St. Mary Lake’s Rising Sun Sunrise


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A fiery sunrise over St. Mary Lake’s Rising Sun – Glacier National Park, Montana


Continuing from my last post, I photographed this St. Mary Lake sunrise scene the following morning.

I had six mornings in the park, and each morning, I woke up before dawn (4am California time) to get to my location. Knowing that the weather on the high mountains are always unpredictable, I made a very conservative plan. I targeted three locations for sunrise and allocated two mornings for each site to increase my chances of catching good light on each location.

One of my intended sunrise locations was arguably the most photographed spot in Glacier National Park: Wild Goose Island. Seeing the eastern sky colors when I passed the Rising Sun boat dock, my heart skipped a few beats. When I arrived at Wild Goose Island, nothing, no cloud, nada! I rushed back to Rising Sun to catch what was left of a good sunrise. The sunrise light I saw on Swiftcurrent Lake was beautiful, but this was the most intense morning sky that I saw during my trip.

If I had the chance to shoot this sunrise again, I’d get down to the Rising Sun boat dock and worked from ground level. There weren’t too many choices as far as composition goes from where I was: right on the side of the road looking down a steep cliff. If I didn’t waste precious time running back and forth between the two locations, I would have had enough time to find a different frame.