Lake Superior Sunrise Fail

Last summer, I had every intention of photographing Lake Superior at sunrise. It has been one of my bucket list items for a long time, and I was excited to finally accomplish this. Or so I thought.


I set my alarm for early on Saturday morning, so I would have plenty of time to wake up and get to where I wanted to go. At least, I thought I did. It turned out, that I did not save the alarm on my phone, so it didn’t go off. By some miracle, I woke up just before sunrise, so I had a little bit of time, but not quite enough.

I raced out the door and headed down the road from my parent’s house to the marina. The sun was in the perfect position in the sky for me to capture a few photos of the boats that were docked there.

The boats docked at the marina in Ashland, Wisconsin.
The boats at the marina in Ashland, Wisconsin.

A little while later, I walked along the shoreline to see what I could see.

Five pilings sticking out of Lake Superior. Check out the rainbow in the upper right of this image.

After that, I went to the ore dock. Unfortunately, nothing really captured my eye, so I didn’t get the photos that I wanted, so I went to the park nearby and scoped out some images there. By the time I was finished at this park, the sun was already pretty high in the sky, so I decided to call it quits for the day.

The sun hiding behind some clouds.
The end of the Ore Dock closes to shore.


On Saturday night, I made sure that my alarm was set this time. On Sunday, it went off and I drove to Washburn. It was still dark when I arrived, and I was really excited to get the images that I was hoping for.

I went to one of the beaches at Thompson’s West End Park and I set up my tripod. I’m glad I did so I could smooth out the water in this image by having my shutter wide open. I also like how the reflection of the trees is blurred a bit. The last time I was on this particular shoreline, it was similar conditions.

A very calm Lake Superior.
It was a gray sunrise in Washburn.

Once I got a few images that I was happy with at this beach, I walked to the other side of the park and photographed scenes that piqued my interest. Which was more challenging than it should have been. There were several factors that played into that. First, it was a gray morning and the sun wasn’t really doing much. Second, I grew up here, so I feel like I took this beach for granted because I would spend most of my summers there. Third, it was cold and I was sleepy, so it was hard to find the motivation I needed.

The pavilion at West End Park.
The pavilion at West End Park in Washburn.

Overall, I am happy with the images I took of Lake Superior at sunrise. However, they aren’t quite the ones I’ve been looking for. I want to try and capture the vivid colors of the sun as it’s rising and interacting with the clouds.

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