This magical pre-sunrise scene is one I have tried to photograph for a long time. After spending an exhaustively long day in the nearby Copper river, dipnetting and hauling 15 red salmon back to my vehicle with a backpack, I camped at a turnout that overlooks Willow lake (a landscape photographer will always camp by water in anticipation of sky reflections). Willow lake is along the Richardson highway and the view to the east looks into the Wrangell St. Elias National Park, and more notably, Mt Blackburn, which at 16,390 ft is an impressive feature. I woke at 4:45am to an achy body, clear skies, and great anticipation when I saw the sky.
I came across this photo during my archive QC process and reprocessed it with Lightroom 3 and tweaked the white balance to reflect two variations of color tone, one warm and one cool. The look is quite different with just a slight adjustment to the color temperature, or white balance. Color temperature is visually represented in the histogram-see the histogram screen shots for the two respective photos below.
The image is made from a panorama stitch of four horizontal frames. I shot a lot of photos that morning, and this is one of my favorites.