The Tale of Two Sunsets

September 03, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

A short time ago, I saw a blog post on how to take your photography to the next level.  One of the items was to "stop taking photos of sunsets".  Of course, when I see definitive statements like that, I tend to get a little rebellious.  I promptly went out and captured a sunset, posted the image and told the world that I took exception to that blog post.  Fortunately, friends and supporters all came out on my side and said "KEEP taking sunsets!"

Funny thing since then, there have been several opportunities to capture some sunsets.  Two in particular got me thinking about two different approaches to photography.

1. The sort that you plan, prepare equipment and diligently go shoot.

AND

2. The sort that just happens to you.

Thought I'd share these two shots as examples of both.

This first image was planned for.  Granted, not a lot of planning, but certainly as the evening was wearing on and I looked out of the studio window to see interesting cloud formations, I knew the potential existed for a cool sunset.  I grabbed my gear and hit the road trying to the right foreground for a sunset.  I knew of a location about 12 or so miles northwest of town with some open spaces, rolling hills, farms, fields and lakes.  Eventually, I found my spot. There was a farm in the foreground which would provide a little scale to the wide open spaces.  Turns out, I didn't even need to wait until the sun went down below the horizon.  The clouds were perfect and beams of sun were shining down to the ground.

Florence SunsetSunset near Florence, SDPlanned

This next photo was one of those photos that just happens to you.  Of course, you can always set yourself up for these opportunities.  First off, you have to have that gear with you.  We all have those head slap moments where we see something and say, "if only I had my camera!"  You need to make sure that your gear is within reach, has available media and charged batteries.

But, prepared or not, these moments will sneak up on you.  Be open to that and images will have a habit of popping up.

This happened just last night as I was returning home from the Twin Cities.  As I approached the city of Danube, MN, the sun had dropped below the horizon and was vibrantly lighting the clouds in deep red.  This is one of those sunsets you really enjoy seeing.  I noticed the light was bright enough on the horizon, but dark enough overall to cast buildings, trees and other structures into silhouette.  As I approached a curve leading into town, I spotted the headlights of an oncoming train and then a dirt road appeared on cue!  

I darted off US Highway 212 and the dirt road fortunately crossed the tracks and then turned almost parallel to the train tracks giving me a cool perspective of the train.  I grabbed my camera, braced myself on the back of the Trailblazer and took a couple of quick shots to check my exposure.  I decided to auto bracket 3 stops (if you are not familar, this is where I shoot one frame exposed correctly, one underexposed and one over exposed just to make sure I had all the lights and darks) and started shooting.  I just wasn't sure where in the frame would be the best for the train, so I figured I'd take a lot of images and cover all bases.

Train SunsetTrain Sunset near Danube, MNUnplanned

I'm certainly happy with both images, but like all photography, this requires effort.  Either the effort of planning for and engaging or for being ready to go for whatever the universe throws at you.

In a sense, I suppose this relates to a whole lot more in life than just photography.  I'll let you take it where it goes in your own life!

Until next time,

PJ

 


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