I recently posted a behind the scenes shot on Instagram of me capturing this moment. I had woken up at 3am, was in the car by 4am and within an hour and a half had driven from sea level, up 13,796 feet to the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. Our normal daily temps were in the low 80’s at sea level, and I was greeting with bone-chilling temps at 32 degrees with a fierce wind at the summit. I was above the cloud layer at the Mauna Kea Observatories with as much clothing I could find, and had even swiped the comforter from my hotel room for extra warmth.
As the glow from sunrise started to warm the horizon, I was positioned behind 2 of the massive telescopes capturing images of them firmly planted in the dark, Mars-like terrain. At this point there were only about 4 or 5 of us total at the summit. The skies then started to lighten, and within minutes the pinks, yellows and oranges performed an aerial dance, bouncing off each other. As the colors intensified, my brother helped me move and reposition my gear on the front side of the observatories as I had nearly lost all feeling in my fingers. With the little mobility I had, I still hit the shutter and captured a few frames along with the now dozen other visitors witnessing this spectacle before us. And in that moment, in complete awe of what was unfolding before me, I felt like the only person in the world.