Going Dark

I am not a woman of my word.  I have sworn off shooting sunsets so many times now, I don’t know how anyone can believe me if I say I’m not going to shoot anymore of them.  This is an unexpected side effect of having a great view–I seem to notice the sunset much of the time.  It may also be a side effect of being in a river valley where interesting clouds form on a regular basis.  I still haven’t figured out if sunsets are really that much more beautiful here that much more of the time or if I just wasn’t paying attention when we lived in Columbus.

I originally shot these each with 5 different exposures thinking I might want to process them using Photomatix for an HDR effect.  However, I found I liked the slightly under exposed images enough that I didn’t bother with the HDR processing.  In fact, these are barely post-processed at all.  They are very close to what came out of the camera.

It’s funny how watching a sunset with a camera in hand can quickly result in about 100 photos (or more) of virtually the same thing.  I am learning to wait between shots.  I wait until something really spectacular happens or until a few minutes have passed.  I figure, on the one hand, you don’t know what the peak moment was until after the entire sunset is over, and then it’s too late to go back and shoot the best moment.  However, I want there to be enough difference between shots that I don’t sit there staring at them trying to decide if one is actually any different than another.

The first time I went to San Diego many, many years ago, I took a little film camera.  Something cheap and horrible that had tiny little negatives and was fully automatic, I’m sure.  I shot an entire roll of film of one sunset but we only watched it for a total of 15 minutes.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t even the last 15 minutes of sunset or, even better, the last 5 minutes of sunset and the first 10 minutes of dusk.  It was just 15 minutes of the sun moving lower in the sky with a couple wisps of clouds that turned a little bit more pink over a roll of film.  Then I was stuck with a stack of photos that looked nearly identical that I didn’t want to get rid of because they were prints.

Now, I have 5 exposures of each shot to delete–I’m already filling up a 2TB hard drive.   This is precisely why I swore off shooting sunsets.

Plus, relaxing into sunset is a little easier when I’m not shooting.  Shooting makes me busy with my camera, changing settings and getting in position and checking to see what I got.  It’s not the same as sitting back in an Adirondack chair, drink in hand, and watching the dark chase the light over the horizon.