Sunrise Photo Shoot

A perfect vantage point
The perfect vantage point

The way my posts this weekend have lined up, you might think I’m being paid by Deborah over at Circadianreflections Blog. It’s not the case. It is the case, however that the event highlighted in this post was inspired by Deborah. As Faith and I were planning our trip to Pittsburgh last fall, Deborah was talking about a trip she and some friends took, in order to take photos of Sedona. That got me thinking about adding a photo shoot to our already over-booked-crazy-busy schedule in Pittsburgh. Faith is a photographer by training and an adventurous soul by nature, so I knew she’d be up for it.

Faith had already agreed to help me door get some photos from a number of places, but I wanted a photo shoot that Faith would find interesting. Early in the week we were leaving, I started checking the weather. Saturday was to be clear and cold. Perfect!

I emailed Faith and asked her if she would be interested in photographing the sunrise from the West End Overlook. There was no hesitation in her reply. “Absolutely!

The West End Overlook is a park, in the west end of the city at the top of Mt. Washington and it overlooks the city from slightly down river on the Ohio. What it lacks in a clever name, it more than makes up for in vista quality. You gaze up the first few hundred yards of the Ohio River to its origin at The Point, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers join. Behind that golden triangle lies the city of Pittsburgh. From the overlook, you have a great view of the city, the stadiums on the North Shore, many of Pittsburgh’s most historic and important bridges, and, if you look off to the southeast, you can make out the top of The Cathedral of Learning.

As we arrived at the entrance to the park, chocked our wheels toward the curb (very steep street) and headed up the path, we knew two things. One, we had been blessed with a beautiful day, and Two, it was cold. It was well below 30°f (-1 c) and while Mt. Washington sometimes protects Pittsburgh from an icy wind, we were on top of Mt. Washington.

At first, I was thinking: “we’ll get a few nice sunrise shots and get out of here,” but a sunrise isn’t like a light switch. The sun rises slowly and the view changes gradually and there are just too many pictures that have to be taken. And then a train! A long train started winding its way north along the Monongahela River, toward us. Then, a second train headed south on a set of tracks parallel but slightly above the riverside tracks. Then an eerie mist started to form on the Ohio River below us. Then, and then, and then our fingers were frozen.

I decided that a collection of sunrise photos would be a great way to kick off 2017 at No Facilities. I can’t tell you how hard it has been to not share these photos before this. I can tell you that, before this day is over, one or two of these will be my Facebook and my Flickr banner photos. I was also the happy recipient of a framed enlargement of one of Faith’s photos from this photo shoot.

If you’re interested in statistics, I took 155 photos. I started working with 30 and eventually selected the 17 included in this post. I probably could have dropped a couple more, but…


  1. I love the shots of this beautiful sunrise. It’s tough going out there on a cold morning, never knowing for sure if the conditions will be right, uncertain about whether you will be able any good images. You sure hit a home run. Wow, you’ve set the bar high as you start 2017.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Mike. We were blessed with a very nice day. Other than the cold, it was nearly perfect. We were walking out when the mist started forming on the river, so we went back. It will be hard to follow this. I have night shots from this park, from several years ago…nah.


  2. When I first saw that your post was opening with sunrises, I knew it had something to do with the year opening up! Good luck to us all, that the year will be as great as your pictures!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful photos! I’m not a train buff, but I think my favorite is the one with the light reflected off the train tracks. Or maybe the one where the last of the fall color comes alive. Or the strange mist. Or…. All wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Marian. I always like the reflections off of train tracks. The mist was really funny. We were on our way to the car and its heater when that started to form. It was hard to whittle this down to less than 20.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for agreeing to this (although there was never any doubt). The trains were a bonus, but a welcome one. Of course, nod I’m thinking that we left here, picked up my brother and went to Eat ‘n Park :)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful morning you both had, and a lovely way to start your new year blog!

    I wish I was there with you two. Although my fingers would have given out in 5 minutes!

    My favorite images is the one you titled” We got here in plenty of time.” The color of the water is gorgeous, The silhouette of the city is lovely with the sun’s glow behind it.

    The image with the train tracks and highway leading into the city is another of my favorites.
    He-Man never took me up here either! I am glad I inspired you to stop. It was worth it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry it took so long to reveal the nature of the inspiration. I was going to post them right away, but I decided they would be a nice way to start the year. Until about 1960, we had to drive around Mt Washington and down that highway to get to the city. Then they dug the Ft Pitt tunnel and built that golden bridge. I was surprised at how the appearance of the water changed while we were there. Thanks again for setting this in motion.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No need to apologize! Starting the year off with sunrise posts from your favorite city with your daughter was a perfect way to start off.

        Watching the way a day unfolds is magical and so unpredictable. I wish I was nearer the water. It’s an awe inspiring element.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Growing up inland, I learned to appreciate rivers. I still prefer rivers to large bodies of water. I’ll be back on the Gulf coast at some point this winter for a day or two. Maybe I’ll get another sunset. 2017, a year of possible photos :)

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous photos, Dan. I love beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Thanks to you and Faith, and the sacrifice of hanging out in the cold in order to share them.

    PS: You need a bigger iPhone ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mary. My phone is pitiful by comparison but at least it fits in my pocket. I’m glad you liked these. I hope we keep playing better football than we played that weekend. That was the last time we lost, but we were there to see it :(

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think we may both have pitiful phones. I have an android from 3-4 years ago, which is ancient in cell phone life. I simply can’t see paying $500 or more for a fancy phone.

        I’m concerned about the game at home next week. The Giants have beat the Packers twice at Lambeau during playoff games and Eli is not a QB to sneeze at. I’ll be needing some Pepto Bismol on Sunday afternoon.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You play right after we meet Miami again. They beat the snot out of us in October. I hate watching playoff games almost as much as missing the playoffs :) I haven’t upgraded my phone in a few years. I think it’s time but…

          Liked by 1 person

  6. These are beautiful, Dan. My favorite one was the ‘blue’ photo, oh, but then the strange mist on the river. And then the smoke stack in the waaaaay back of the sunrise photos. Great way to start both the day and new year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I read this early this morning, but on my phone, so no easy way to respond. We’ve been at that same spot, although not at sunrise/set. These are excellent photos to start a new year. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your world through it.


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dan, I studied and enjoyed all of the seventeen photos! The most awesome, breathtaking pictures, in my opinion, have the river turning from blue into the brightened look of dayrise or sunrise. The building lights and seeing ripples in the river were thrilling! Thank you to Faith and to yourself for sharing these.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Most people would say they love sunsets. But there is something special with sunrises. The fact that you have to show up to watch this moment that can be so quick in the summer is truly wonderful. Your photos are gorgeous and it was fun to have Faith with you, I’m sure. Her photo is lovely. The phones too!

    Liked by 1 person

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