Thursday, January 8, 2009

Keep your eyes open . . .

Face it, that's really one of the biggest secrets to successful photography, at least for me.

There's an old adage in photojournalism: F8 and be there. At the bottom line, it means there's at least some measure of luck in making good images.

But, to me, it also means photographers can "get lucky" by being ready when the moment happens. This image has more to say about being ready than being lucky.

It's kinda hard to miss a pretty sunset. I mean, it's there. You'd have to seriously be not paying attention to drive past a sunset like this and not notice. I admit I sometimes get so focused on other things I don't take the time to look around me. I'm working on that.

This was one of those evenings when everything came together for the sunset. It's been kind of gray and dreary around here lately. Then, when the sun would come out, I'd be stuck inside, working, unable to get out near the end of the day to take advantage of whatever sunset action there was.

Wednesday was different. I finished up work and headed for home at about 5 p.m. As I headed south out of town, the sun came out from behind a bank of distant clouds just a few degrees above the horizon. I knew it was going to get good, and soon.

As I drove down the road, I was watching the sun in relation to things in the foreground — barns, windmills, etc. — until I passed this row of trees. I quick turned around, headed back up the road and parked in a field entrance. I didn't even take the time to close the door on my truck. I just grabbed my cameras and started off on foot to find the right angle.

I stopped every once in a while, watching as the sun sank lower. Just as the sun dipped barely below the horizon behind the trees, the sky lit up with this amazing red hue. I started firing off frames, one every few seconds, pausing to check my exposure and adjusting as necessary.

Over the course of maybe five minutes, it was over. That's how so many things in this world are — they're fleeting. But, maybe, that's what makes it interesting.

With a little forethought and planning — and an admittedly fair portion of luck — I captured something in my camera never seen before and never to be seen again. Oh, there's been millions of sunsets and there'll be millions more. But this one, on this evening, is mine.

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