I believe that the main ingredient for success in photography is persistence. All the amazing photographs that are floating around on social media and in books are the results of persistence--constantly honing photography skills, researching the site and location scouting, and multiple attempts just waiting for the one magical moment when all of the variables align.
I enjoy photography and define my success as a photographer not by how much money I make from it or how many followers or likes I get on Instagram. Instead, I define success as the amount of joy that it brings me to see an image that I was able to successfully capture. This hobby pushes me to want to explore new places I've never been and revisit old places I've been to dozens of times before.
As some of you know, I really enjoy heading out and photographing sunrises. I'm constantly keeping an eye on the forecast for potential amazing sunrises. Last week all the signs were pointing to an amazing sunrise. The sky would be partly cloudy with the clouds at higher elevations, the air was relatively clear and transparent, the temperature wasn't too hot or cold, the moon and stars were visible the evening before, and the sunset was relatively pleasant. However, with the recent Eagle Creek Fire, there was a chance for smoke to ruin the experience. The previous few days the smoke hadn't been too bad and the air quality was good, but I still didn't want to waste a long trip out for a sunrise that may not materialize. I settled on Rocky Butte as a location as it had scenic views of the Cascade mountains and wasn't too far of a drive.
I arrived at Rocky Butte around 5:30am, an hour before sunrise. I got out of the car and could smell the smoke. I knew right away that the sunrise would probably not be that great. Other than the smoke, everything was as the forecasts had predicted. Unfortunately, the smoke was dense and it was low to the horizon. I wasn't able to see the sun until well after the sun rose and I was back in Beaverton. There was a brief burst of color where it attempted to be great, but in the end the sun could break through the dense smoke. Turns out that day happened to be one of the worst air quality days since the initial days following the fire. It was also the day where Portland had the worst air quality in the entire US. Nevertheless, I can see great potential in Rocky Butte for being an excellent location for future sunrises. I will return again one day.