Why do landscape photographers get up at o'dark thirty, hop in their cars and drive sometimes long distances to take photos? To experience this scene is why, and maybe you are able to capture a few good photos while you are there. You won't get this photo at any other time of the day, except maybe for sunset and the experience will not be the same. Why won't it be the same type of experience? My answer is twofold.
First, most popular sunrise locations are virtually deserted and you often are sharing it with no one else. On this morning at Sprague Lake, I was the only one there. As a result, there were no distractions, no people talking or running around, just me enjoying the tranquility and oneness with nature. I am pretty sure that during sunset later that day, I would have encountered a lot of people and the experience would not be of the same quality. Secondly, landscape photographers know that the best time to get a smooth-as-glass lake that perfectly reflects the subject is extremely more likely during sunrise. Once sunrise occurs, you can usually bet that you won't see mirror-like reflections the rest of the day. So, when you think that landscape photographers are a bit crazy to get up so early, keep thinking it, because we think everyone else is a bit crazy for missing these experiences.