In photography, light is everything and can make or break a photo. Some of the best lighting happens at sunrise and sunset. This is called the "golden hour," the hour after sunrise and before sunset. Getting up early has never been a problem for me. I love being out with my coffee and gear just before sunrise in order to scope out and create the perfect composition. Especially in the mountains when that first light hits the top of a peak and creates that Alpine Glow, it can be spectacular! That's when you get those first shots in, then wait as the light begins to make everything glow golden and pink. If there are clouds that is the "Pièce de résistance."
Over the last few years I have been developing my eye to notice the lighting of an area. When I am out scouting locations to shoot, I first look for subjects that I enjoy, but the next thought on my mind is; which direction will the sun be at sunrise and or sunset and will it enhance the subject? Notice the two photos below. These are Great Blue Herons building and protecting their nests. The first one is at sunrise, while the second is later in the day when it became more overcast.