A special sunrise: Photographing the colors of the light spectrum


I know I've been a bit dog-centric lately. Okay a lot dog-centric. I promise some diversity in the near future. I have five articles I'm working on that have nothing to do with dogs (from burrowing owls in the Bay Area to Midway's plastic problem and more) and I'm on my way out the door to Nome to photograph the wildlife of northwest Alaska. So there is plenty on the way to break up all the four-legged fluff. In the meantime, I wanted to take a moment to relive one of the most lovely sunrises I've had the pleasure of seeing since moving to San Francisco.

Something that tops my list of most enjoyable things in life is to head out the door while it's still dark outside, and drive to a favorite hiking trail with my dog and my camera. Nothing beats the cool, crisp air, the quiet broken only by birdsong, the smell of damp sage or fallen leaves, and most importantly, the colorful transition of night to day.

Sometimes the sky changes simply from black to pale blue. But sometimes you get extra lucky, and a whole broad palette of colors is painted across the sky, shifting as the sun inches closer to the horizon. This particular morning was a lucky one.


We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and wound up the hills of the Marin Headlands. I kept glancing out over the spectacle of the gold and blue sky over the bay so often I felt like I had a twitch so I finally pulled over just to take it in for a moment. We got out and I stared while my dog sniffed.

But I love to be on the trail, not in the car, as the sun comes up, so Niner and I piled back in and hurried down to our spot.


A storm had come through not long before so a lagoon that is usually separated from the ocean by a stretch of beach was actually so full that it ran all the way to the waves. The calm water running parallel to the shoreline was just gorgeous, especially with the incredibly colorful light reflecting off of it from the sky.


The only way to get from the parking lot to the beach was through the over-flowing lagoon so, through we went. I was glad I'd brought my muck boots, but I think Niner found the flooding to be a fantastic bonus at the start of our hike.


We continued up the trail overlooking the coastline but I kept stopping every few feet just to stare. Some mornings the sky changes its colors so many times you think you've seen the best it has to offer, and yet the gifts just keep on coming. From radiant orange we shifted into soft pink and gold...


...and from soft pink and gold, the sun crested the horizon and we actually had a Red Five. It was amazing. I didn't get very many photos because in the brief moments of spectacular color, I was just staring at everything and how it all glowed red and orange, getting even more vivid by the moment until everything just looked unreal.


By the time I collected myself and got a shot composed, the party was nearly over. The sun was up, and now we shifted into the lovely golden hour.


For me, the day holds the best magic between the minutes when the sky shifts from black to white. There is an extraordinary amount of color to be seen on the special mornings when the weather and sun play nice together to create such amazing painterly combinations of purples, pinks, golds, oranges, reds, and blues.

And when the sun is finally high enough that the sky is washed of color, it's not necessarily the end of the celebration. It is at that point I can bask in the fact that I still have a whole long day ahead of me, and look at all I've already had the luck to witness!

Sunrises are just flat out the best part of a day.

Photos © Jaymi Heimbuch. All rights reserved. Most photos on my site are available for purchase as prints. If you see an image in a blog post that you’re interested in, please send an email. I’d be happy to work with you to create a print you’ll love.