Angel’s Eye

This photograph offers a lesson in serendipity, one that embraces a simple yet enduring truism: often what we seek most is directly behind us.

I came to be overlooking Angel Island at dawn because of this month’s story on the Lodge at Cavallo Point. I wanted to make a picture that captured the grand sweep of the setting—the gleaming white buildings, the rising Headlands, and, of course, the Golden Gate. The sun lit the scene best at first light.

For two weeks I rose early, checked the sky and rued the fog that obscured the dawn. Time was short. Deadline was near. Then, just days before this issue closed, I saw stars above.

I rushed to Sausalito, climbed a steep hill, tripod and cameras in hand, and waited. As the sky lightened, my heart fell. Rather than being awash in rich colors, Cavallo Point was bathed in gray.

The wind picked up, stinging my eyes, so I turned my back to the Gate and saw, surprisingly, the sun winking coyly from behind Angel Island. As the glowing orb rose into the fog, I began packing up, but it reappeared suddenly, burning brightly through a fleeting hole in the clouds. I looked behind me again, this time westward, and there, as I had hoped, was the picture you’ll find here.