Sonoma Coast Sunrise

Dawn breaks over the rolling hills of the Sonoma Coast
Dawn breaks over the rolling hills of the Sonoma Coast

A little while ago a friend and I were out near Bodega, shooting sunrise along the Sonoma coast. Because we were getting some morning fog rolling inland, any kind of shoot along the water was a no go, and we headed into the rolling hills just off the ocean. Here we had great views to the south as the sun side-lit the undulating farmland, punctuated by scattered forest.

The early rays of sun peak through a dissipating fog along the Sonoma Coast
The early rays of sun peak through a dissipating fog along the Sonoma Coast

I love opportunities to shoot fog, whether it is filtering through trees, or defining separation between mountains or hills. The added atmosphere can lend a certain drama to the photo.

Once the sun had risen, I chose to shoot directly into it, knowing the fog would help filter the direct light.

The early rays of sun peak through a dissipating fog along the Sonoma Coast
The early rays of sun peak through a dissipating fog along the Sonoma Coast

Here I loved the way the fog helped the trees separate into layers. I worked the composition and exposure, trying to balance the direct sun, low contrast fog, and back-lit grasses so that they could all add elements to the same photo. Once I was satisfied with some of the larger elements of the landscape, I moved into the macro realm to capture detail.

The rising sun backlights the golden grasses of a Sonoma Coast hillside
The rising sun backlights the golden grasses of a Sonoma Coast hillside

The back-lit grass itself captured my attention and demanded further photographic exploration. Moving from a small aperture to a very large one gave me the ability to amplify the fine detail of only the few grasses that remained in focus. The rest of the grass blended into a nice evenly colored backdrop.

Soon the sun had risen higher and the fog began to burn off in the rapidly warming day. I packed up my gear, happy for the fog that forced us up into the hills.