The other day, someone asked me about my family surname, Beausoleil. It's a French-Canadian name and Beausoleil in English means “beautiful sun” (beau soleil). It seems rather fitting that I am a photographer who specializes in landscape photography which includes the sun with sunrises and sunsets!
Admittedly, I first fell in love with photography when I made my first night photograph.
It was (and still is) exciting to meet the challenge of making a photograph using what little available light there might be in the scene. It is rewarding to achieve the balance between the dark of night and the brightness of the available light. If done properly, a photograph made at night can be as stunning and detailed as one that is made during the day. Reflections of the NightMilwaukee skyline at night from the north end of the Lagoon on the lakefront. When I head out to shoot at sunrise, it is always about the light before the sun rises over the horizon. I am not there to point the camera directly into the sun as it comes up over the horizon. There are a few exceptions, of course. Silhouettes at SunriseSunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Winter Sunrise on Lake MichiganThe waves were a mixture of water and ice chunks. When it washed up, it made the sound of ice cubes hitting the ground. When I was living in the Midwest, I loved using the reflections of the sun and clouds on bodies of water (Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and inland lakes and coves). I would compose the shot by cropping the sun out of the frame so that my shot only included the sky (clouds) and the reflection itself. The bright sun itself can be rather distracting in a photograph and take away from the beauty of other objects in the scene. Icy ShoresIt was still 20 days from the first day of Spring on Lake Michigan. Reflections in the SandMelbourne, Florida just after sunrise in the month of December Living in the mountains, I have had to come up with other methods of shooting the sunrise without pointing the camera directly at the sun. Instead of using reflections, I use more silhouettes in the shot. Unless the clouds are extremely dramatic. Colorful SunriseSunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Sunrise in Staunton, VirginiaBetsy Bell Wilderness Park overlooking Staunton, Virginia at sunrise in December. Or I turn around and look for a subject that is being illuminated by the rising sun. Wind Point Lighthouse at SunriseWind Point Lighthouse on Lake Michigan in Racine County, Wisconsin
Grand Haven Lighthouse at SunriseThe Grand Haven Lighthouse is on Lake Michigan in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. There are unlimited opportunities for different types of photographs at sunrise (or sunset), no matter where you are. We all share the sun, no matter where we are on the planet. Any one of us could take a picture of the sun and it would look like the others. What sets it apart is how we compose the photograph to include our surroundings and the effect of the light, whether it’s the sun or the moon.
And that is my goal as a “beautiful sun” photographer. It is all about the light, whether it’s at sunrise, sunset, or the dark of night.