Tag Archives: Sunset

Getting Caught in a Small Storm While Taking Pictures

A year ago I was able to wonder around in a nearby forest taking in wildlife. You can read about it here if you would like. There have not been as many opportunities to get out with my camera this spring but recently I did get to spend some time taking in the ever greening forest in search on new life. On this particular outing my goal was to see if a mother coyote had taken up residence in a familiar spot to raise her little ones again and to find out if Eagles had once again laid eggs in their nest from last year.

Up in the tree

While slowly making my way in the woods attempting to make as little noise as possible I heard a low growling sound coming from nearby. Scanning the area I saw a head hanging out of a hole in the tree. Watching for a minute or two I noticed this raccoon ever so gently resting its head in this hole looking exhausted from the day.

A passing deer in the dark forest

Enjoying this raccoon for a short time I heard a noise in leaves up the hill from me but couldn’t see what was making the noise. Shortly after a little deer made its way near me but hadn’t noticed me yet. Fortunately I was standing on a log right next to another tree so there was no shuffling of leaves to slowly turn to watch it. As I began to rotate, the deer spotted my movement causing us both to stop immediately. It was so dark in the woods that taking pictures of moving animals was a challenge and I was in a poor position to steady my camera so all I could manage was a few blurry shots and it was gone. This was ok because I wanted to focus more on the raccoon.

A tired mother raccoon

Once the deer had disappeared I hopped onto another fallen tree nearby trying to keep the noise down as I moved closer to this hollow tree being used for a home. Once on this tree I quietly removed my backpack and took out the tripod in order to steady my camera in hopes of getting sharper photos. While doing this out pops a bunch of tiny heads trying to figure out what I was doing. Now I understand why this larger raccoon appears to be so tired as to be almost lifeless. It was a mother with several little ones to tend to.

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Almost settled in with my backpack and tripod, there was another rustling in the leaves near where the first noise came from but this time it sounded slightly different. I quickly frozen, standing on this log trying to look for movement and then I heard a sound – a turkey. Wow I’ve never had turkeys walk up to me. I always seem to come up on them and scare them away before getting a decent picture. Now what do I do? In order for me to get to cover so they wouldn’t recognize me I would have to move significantly. I decided to concentrate on these baby raccoons but tried to remain steady as to not disrupt the turkeys too much. They did eventually move on away from me so I could once again focus on these little critters right in front of me.

The whole raccoon family

Now I was able to get the camera set up on the tripod and sit comfortably on the log I was just standing on and shoot away as this family would pop in and out of this larger hole in the tree. Enjoying my time watching these little fury creatures I heard another noise off in the distance. It sounded like thunder! I didn’t think there was really any storms in the area so I dismissed it as possibly an airplane overhead or something. Than I heard it again with a much longer rumble. That had to be thunder so I pulled out my phone all while being watched and check the radar. Now what should I do? I can pack up and try and get out of hear or wait it out since it appeared I was on the edge and may only get a little rain. Waiting it out seemed like the better idea as I could see sun near the horizon so this couldn’t last very long. Back to taking pictures of the raccoons.

Approaching storm

While sitting there defying the weather, the thunder got closer and more numerous causing me to question my decisions to stay. Finally when it was almost overhead I decided it was time to pack up and leave. It must have been the right decision as the raccoons had all retreated back into their tree as well. Getting out to the edge of the woods I could see the storm which appeared to have just passed overhead. Now the wind was picking up at my back so the approaching cold front must have just came through. Do I go back to the raccoons or continue on to the eagles nest or keep going towards the car? My answer came in the form what sounded like a strong wind gust. But it wasn’t wind. I new my time was up and my choice now was to seek shelter among a clump of large maple trees just as heavy rains began pounding down. After a short downpour I decided to continue to the car and enjoyed watching the sun set behind this small spring storm. Definitely worth getting wet for.

A beautiful sunset as the storm passes

Watching the Sun Set

It was an unseasonably warm evening on Halloween weekend and I just had to get out and taken in the suns warmth while enjoying the setting sun. There were some wispy clouds floating across the sky setting up for one of those spectacular sunsets that challenges the beauty of the northern lights. But you just never know what kind of sunset you’ll get so your goal of photographing the beautiful, fleeting colors could end up failing as it often does.

The day coming to a close as the sun nears the horizon

Late in the afternoon I headed out to explore a place I haven’t spent much time at but appeared to hold great promise of beautiful photos. Meandering through a grassy field, swamps, and forest and many distractions to take pictures of (such as the snake in my previous post),I eventually arrived at my destination and settled in. There was still some time before the sun would set so I surveyed my surroundings looking for different possible perspectives to include in my pictures. Closer to sunset a warm golden glow began blanketing the landscape bringing a glorious end to my day.

A beautiful golden glow close to sunset

Enjoying the brilliant golden sky reflecting back at me, the moment I have been waiting for had arrived. The sun was near the horizon and I was in a great position to take it all in with clouds in perfect position to make it a spectacular show. Hold on to see if the anticipation was warranted. Even if it became a bust at this point it was still a gift to be able to take in this beautiful afternoon surrounded by nature.

The sun has almost set for the day

And there we have it – Sunset! Right on time according to my watch. This is were people decide to leave and head home. Often this means they miss the most colorful part of a sunset. As the sun passes below the horizon is when I really begin to pay attention to the clouds and watch for sunlight bouncing off of them.

And there we have sunset - Applause! Beautiful!

Soon after there are some reds in the bottom clouds. What a beautiful contrast to all the dark blues surrounding them. Ohh I think this is going to be just what I was hoping for. A quick check to make sure the camera battery has enough power and my memory card has plenty of space for whatever photos I want to take. All things are good as I wouldn’t want to miss a piece of this because of a dying battery or full memory card. On with the show!

And now the color show is about to start

Tonight there is no disappointment in the sky while incredible colors splash above as if being painted right in front of me. This is where the choice becomes extremely difficult. Photograph this or just sit back and enjoy the moment. If you decide to photograph it you’re guaranteed to miss parts of oranges, red, and yellows dancing on clouds floating by but there will be pictures to look back on for as long as you want. To put everything down and take in the sights you’ll be able to watch it all unfold but only with your memory. You can guess my decision.

Wow, now that is spectacular the way the sun is bouncing off of the clouds

Incredible! How else can you describe this sunset? Who else is out here to see this tonight? Are the animals around me pausing for a few minutes to marvel at this beauty? Is this a celestial gift just for me? What have I done to deserve such an amazing moment?

A colorful sunset panoramic

As the sun continues to move further below the horizon and clouds continue to glide across the darkening sky the colors continue to change and begin to recede to the eventual darkness soon to follow. I still continue to photograph even though it is difficult as I’m almost paralyzed from this beautiful night watching the sun set in full glory. Humbled by these huge forces working together in indescribable ways. If only it could last a little longer.

The amazing color combinations beginning to deminish

A few more photos and it’s time to leave in order to pick my way through this unfamiliar forest while there is still a glimpse of light. I always walk away from a sunset like this very humble and full of energy from what I just witnessed. It can be a big spiritual moment reminding me of how fortunate I am and what I’ve been given. Also a bit of sadness enters from the realization that many other people didn’t even realize how amazing this sunset was and so didn’t, or couldn’t, take a few minutes out of their day to see it. Yep, it was the right decision to come here for this moment.

Now it's time for the final applause

From beginning to end I photographed this sunset over a two hour span which may have been the best two hours of that day. Just before arriving at my destination I was photographing the snake and had the opportunity to continue doing so but decided it was time to move on as the sun was getting lower in the sky. Those can be challenging decisions to make but I couldn’t create more images of the snake and catch the sunset. I’m satisfied with how it all turned out. Some fun photos of the snake and images of this wonderful sunset.

 

Sunsets

Sunset in Keywest

Ahh, sunsets. Like so many people, this is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. Looking through any number of posts on this website you will no doubt come across some of my pictures. In Peter’s photography experiment post on sunsets (located here…. he focuses on tropical sunsets. More specifically, sunsets over the ocean. Who doesn’t like a good tropical ocean sunset photo. There are photos of this subject all over the place. I have taken many of these myself and will likely take several hundred or even several thousand more myself in the future. However, most of my sunset opportunities are far away from any ocean so I have to practice in different situations.

Sunset on Isle Royale

Peter writes about the importance of composition in taking a good sunset photo and that applies to any sunset photo. Just a photo of the setting sun in the center of the picture is certainly not as interesting as capturing some of the surrounding landscape and inviting the viewer into the setting. Fortunately Lake Superior is much closer to me and can photograph similar to the ocean providing a place to practice. One of the differences is the lack of nice sandy beaches but many of the rock formations can more than make up for this in creating interesting sun sets. Another opportunity for practice comes with the sea of snow often available. Sun sets are different with a snow covered landscape for a couple of reasons. First, sun sets occur earlier in the day and happen substantially faster. Second, the reflection off of the snow provides a different lighting, and thirdly, there are no leaves on many of the trees allowing different silhouettes to outline a landscape.

Winter Sunset

During this past winter, when the polar vortex affected so many, there were a number of great opportunities to practice sunset photography. The above picture was taken one evening on a last minute decision to go out and watch the sun set because the clouds were creating a beautiful canvas while the sun traveled through them. Unfortunately those clouds also covered the sun right at sun set. Still, the way the light bounced off of the clouds provided for an amazing opportunity to practice my photography. This was at a local park and as I traveled around the park the sky kept begging for more pictures as the clouds and colors changed and intensified so naturally I obliged.

The Blue Hour

Stopping at a frozen over lake, I watched the final moments of daylight vanish as the light continued to change the look of the landscape all the while. My camera kept snapping photos, changing the composition of each shot in an attempt to learn attributes of a great composition. During the winter in the Midwest, the sunset colors are different than the summer or in the tropics. Whether it is do to lack of the growing plants, the snow covered landscape, or the angle of the sun, I don’t know. But I do know it is just different, the reds are more pronounced in the clouds creating a striking contrast to the blue sky.

The Blue Hour with Snowballs

After the sun had set there were still amazing colors floating around in the sky. Taking a few pictures over this lake I was just moving around in the snow and wanted to try a low angle shot. Using my boot I started kicking away the snow to make a place for the camera to capture this low angle. By accident the snow was firm enough to create these snow balls so I decided to try and add these into the photograph. Setting up the first shot, the snow balls definitely added to the overall composition by providing interest in the foreground. Maybe centered is not the best placement though. Let’s try moving them to one side. That helps! Instead of focusing on the snowballs by putting them in the center of the picture, moving them to the side allows the viewer to look past them and returns the focus onto the colorful clouds. Composition definitely plays a part in the quality of a photograph in the winter as well.

The Blue Hour with Snowballs Repositioned

Dinner at the Space Needle

Downtown Seattle

One of the most popular attractions when visiting Seattle is the famous Space Needle.  So when planning for a trip to Seattle the first stop was Spaceneedle.com. We knew we wanted to view Seattle from the Needle but didn’t realize the different options available to experience this unique structure. Eating at the Skycity restaurant was very appealing until viewing the menus and seeing the prices. For a family of four to eat there it was going to be over $200. Not sure that was in the budget.

How about some time on the observation deck? That was still a little pricey but how often did we plan on visiting Seattle? Probably this one time so better take advantage of being there and go to the top of this famous attraction. The next question – do we go during the day, the night, or both since all of these options are offered? After figuring out that the observation deck was included with a meal, the cost of eating in the Skycity restaurant was not as bad. Especially if we decided that the day and night was what we wanted to do. How about eating around sunset and then going up to the observation deck before dinner to see Seattle in the waning hours of the sunlight.

Everyone in our group decided dinner around sunset would be a good idea, that is of course, if the sky was relatively clear to see the sun. Let’s take the chance and make reservations! Next, finding out the sunset time of Seattle in late August. For that we used timeanddate.com and then made our reservations around that time. Here’s hoping! It was off to Seattle.

A Cloudy and Foggy Morning

Our day began in the Olympic Mountains with plenty of clouds and fog. A sunset didn’t look very promising giving way to a little disappointment setting in. There was most of the day left for the sky to clear but the forecast didn’t indicate a good chance of it. For a different view of Seattle we took the ferry from the Olympic Mountains to northern Seattle. Driving on a boat was a unique and fun experience for those of us that don’t really get the opportunity to do so. I’m sure it’s old news to those who get to do it on a regular basis. Once we exited the ferry it was off to downtown to explore the fish market, the underground, and eventually end up at the Needle.

Location of the Popular Fish Market

As the day continued, and our Seattle adventure taught us about the city, we noticed the sky beginning to clear a little. There is hope! Our reservation time was ticking closer so off to the hotel to clean up, change, and get ready for dinner. We arrived at the Space Needle taking in the uniqueness of this structure that we had seen several times from a far. Where is the entrance? It’s not like there is a definite front to this building. Walking around it we found entrance doors and slipped inside. A huge gift shop is what greats you. How do you check in? Walking around on the inside a reservation desk appeared so we walked up to it and let them know we had arrived for our reservation. Pretty easy once you gain your bearings in this circular building.

The Space Needle

We were directed towards a line for restaurant guests to take a specific elevator near your reservation time. After waiting a short time it was into the elevator and quickly up the Needle. The elevator ride itself is fun as they are on the outside of the building and have large windows to view the city as you climb to the top. It was such a smooth ride and went to fast for us as we enjoyed peering out at our surrounding while the elevator climbing higher and higher making the ground look smaller and smaller. Next stop, the observation deck. Going out onto the deck gave a wonderful view of Seattle, the Olympic Mountains, and Mt. Rainier.  Unfortunately, this view is impeded by cables taking away from the magnificence of it. Still a nice view. After about 15 minutes we were called for dinner and made our way down one level to the restaurant.

Seattle From the Observation Deck

We were quickly seated on this revolving floor and had an even better view of the area because of the complete windowed view giving a panoramic look at Seattle and the nearby mountains without the cables. Everyone in the group had been warned of the prices to be expected for dinner so the shock had was taken care of.  I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat because I was spending most of my time watching the setting sun. Success! Most of the clouds had dissipated leaving a gorgeous sunset over the Olympic Mountains. This plan could not have worked better. What a blessing.

A Beautiful Sunset

Dinner came and the sun left leaving us with great food to enjoy while Seattle was lit up underneath us. One of the kids dishes comes with noodles in the shape of the Space Needle itself. How fun is that?! And for dessert, how about a smoking bowl of ice cream?

        Noodles in the Shape of the Space Needle         Smoking Ice Cream

For those who may be questioning whether to eat at the restaurant or just visit the observation deck, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to eat at the Space Needle at least once if nothing else for the unique experience of it. I will certainly do it again if the opportunity presents itself.

Night Time From the Needle

For those unable to get to Seattle, here is a live webcam from the Space Needle.

The Space Needle at Night

Rule of Thirds

Thirds

One of the rules of photography is to place focal points or points of interest into a third of the shot. That is a point where the lines intersect on this grid.  For a little more in depth description check this out. The grid above represents a photo divided into sections equaling a third. Many cameras have this grid available for display and I have added this into my display. I enjoy photographing the setting sun (and rising sun if I’m out and about with the camera) so this seemed like a good subject for the thirds experiment. The picture below has the sun centered in the photograph as you can see by the grids. Hmm….interesting.

Setting Sun Centered

I really don’t think it is all that bad but then again the subject – setting sun over a lake looks good in just about any picture. Now let’s see what this looks like using the thirds rule. After adding the grids you can see that the sun is in the lower, right third of the picture. I definitely like having more of the colorful sky in the picture but in this case the water could really be shown more, especially with the suns reflection. As is stated in Peter’s post, “The Rule Of Thirds is a handy place to start when trying to figure out how to frame a scene. It’s also a great jumping off place for further experimentation.”

Setting Sun on Grid

I do think the sun and it’s reflection in the water look better off to one side or the other so let’s keep that part of the photograph at the thirds line. Adding a little more water to the picture and just a little bit less sky gives me a picture that shows the highlights of what I was enjoying that night – water with the suns reflection in the waves, setting sun with so many beautiful colors, and the silhouettes of the surrounding shore contrasting with the sky and water. Yah, keeping the sun to one third of the picture is better than centering it in my opinion.

Adjusting the Rule of Thirds

For those who would like to see this picture without the grids on it, here it is.

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Since I really liked the sun reflecting in the water and the transitioning colors of the sky, changing the orientation of the camera offered the opportunity to capture more of both. I still kept the sun on the right third of the picture as you can see by the grid lines. That did it! this shows all of the sun’s reflection in the water and the colors of the sky transitioning from the reds and yellows to the darker blues of the oncoming night sky.

Verticle with Grids

Once again a chance to look at this picture without the grids. If trying to decide which one of these to frame, I’m not sure which one I would choose. Which one would you choose? Why? It would probably depend on where I would hang it or what I was going to do with it.

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An Evening on The Mississippi

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Over the 4th of July holiday we had the opportunity to do some fishing on the Mississippi River. The fish were biting slow so I had some time to play with the camera and try a lot of different settings and angles. The water was very cooperative as you can see and the clouds mixed with the setting sun gave this spectacular view. To be honest, I had a difficult time selecting this picture as there were others to choose from. If you’re a member of this site, you may be able to take a look at those soon.

Why Are Sunsets So Popular?

Many of the most popular photographs include a sunset. Do an internet search for sunsets and there are many choices of sunset pictures to choose from. We have many choices for viewing sunsets. Many businesses are centered around these from sunset cruises to the best places to see a setting sun. Often on a trip to a national park I search for the best day and place to photograph a sunset. While taking this video of all the people joined together to celebrate the sunset got me wondering ‘why?’. In an effort to find out I did a search for why are sunsets so popular. Guess what I found. Yep, a lot of links for sunset photographs, how to take sunset photographs, places to view a sunset, and sunset excursions. Not much information on why we enjoy doing all of these things. So I’ll give you my thoughts and opinions on the subject.

Sun Setting From an Airplane

First of all I believe sunsets are important just because of the spectacular colors they present. These colors are not found anywhere else in nature together at one time. As the sun sets these colors constantly evolve from one color to another over a period of minutes. This whole explosion of colors occur over only a few minutes each day. This is likely another reason we take time to view a great sunset. They only occur over a few minute period of time on the days where the sun is shining. And better yet the best pictures include the right mix of clouds on the horizon and sun peaking through those clouds. Days when this occurs are even rarer.

Sunset Cruises

Another reason sunsets are so enjoyed is the psychological meaning behind the setting sun. This signifies the end of a day. A time to spend a few moments to reflect on the accomplishments of that day. What you did or didn’t do. What you witnessed and the memories that were made that day. This is a transition from the animals of the daytime retreating to their shelters for a safe evening of sleep and the creatures of the night beginning to prowl. If you ever have the opportunity to go out into the quiet wilderness just before sunset it is amazing all of the activity that is going on around you as the animals prepare for the night. Yes, this is also a metaphor for people as well. The daytime events and the night creatures we become. This end of the day also allows for reflections on the promise of tomorrow as the sun rises once again.

Crowd Gathered to Watch an Amazing Setting Sun

While a sun rise is not nearly as celebrated it can provide just as spectacular of scenery to be captured in a photograph or your memory. I like to witness the rising sun even more than a sunset because it signifies the beginning of the day and the promise of all that you are capable of doing in that day. Why do you enjoy the setting sun?

 

The Schooner Passing Through the Sun

 

*All of these photos are the way they were photographed. There has not been any digital enhancements done to improve these photos. If you can believe it these photos were taken with 3 different cameras – an HD video camera, a digital photo camera, and a cell phone camera. Can you tell me which cameras took which photos? I can’t tell unless I look at the meta data.