Three crowded expressways, a couple of darkened blocks through Hollywood, one steep drive up what seemed like a small mountain range later, and I had finally reached my 5:30 am destination at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The unknown perils of wandering alone in a dark park across the country from my home were quickly erased from my mind once I entered a parking lot busy with cars and saw the mix of hikers, walkers and photographers milling about as though it was their lunch hour break on a sunny afternoon. No longer a believer in new year’s resolutions, I began 2015 with one promise, to get up more often for the sunrise. A daily routine so simple for many people is a chore for this confirmed night owl, and when I do try to crawl out of bed by 6:30, the sun fun is long over.
Alone in Los Angeles for a few days, I spent a few too many hours fretting about whether I should just do it, get up in the tired hours and drive across the city in the dark to a place I’d only been once before in the daylight, to practice photography on the edge of morning. Funny how one internet article stands out among many others as a voice of reason, with concise instructions on the preparations for the best sunrise photography. So I followed the advice and encouragement of a virtual stranger, and before I settled in the night before, I filled the rental car with gas, put my tripod in the trunk, charged the camera battery, loaded empty memory cards and double checked the driving directions.
I’m still learning the ins and outs of photography, but at this point should be a little more on my game with the technical aspects and a master of the manual settings. Once I get going however, I tend to get distracted by the beauty of a moment, the quirks of the people around me, and this trip was no different. I became both intimated and awestruck by the roller bags filled with camera equipment and compact car sized lenses around me, and lost focus once I realized that the space I claimed overlooking the city was the one worth waiting in line for. Not enjoying the performing under pressure feeling, I gathered up my tripod and backpack and began the hike up the Hollywood Hills to gain a quieter perspective on the arrival of the new day. Along the way I passed dozens of walkers trekking back down, and like the slow dawn around me, I realized that they had already made a “get up before sunset” resolution, ignored the misery of rising in the dark having already discovered its rewards and joys. Their connection with the world was evidence. Cheerful good morning greetings and the smiles I received propelled me forward to fulfill the New Year’s promise to myself, and to finish my pre-dawn photography journey that morning, and if I stick with it, many more to come. Bring it on, sunrise.
Happy Morning People
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles January 8, 2015