Although I do not use photographs to make art work, I do, occasionally, use photography to help me observe subject matter. Paintings made from photographs tend to look flat and lifeless. However, I do use selected photographs to refresh my memory about details or lighting. It is often difficult to capture the detail needed for my drawings in a limited amount of time. I always make sketches and plan my drawings but sometimes a good photograph can help me understand lighting or plant structure.
Getting up at 4:30 in the morning seemed more like boot camp than fun, but, once up, the views of the sun coming up were spectacular. The challenge was to manipulate the shot with manual settings and get as much color in the sky as possible while still respecting detail in the foreground. (I had trouble just setting up the tripod in the dark. Note to self, bring flashlight).