photo of the week

You Gotta Hold Your Mouth Right.

This end-of-day image at Saracen Lake in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was about 30 minutes in the making, once the sun dipped low enough to begin its fun and games with lingering clouds.  Provided they stick aound long enough, these leftover clouds from an overcast day will give you results like this, but only if you hold your mouth right.  You also need to wait for best results — in this case, about 11 minutes after sunset.

Waitin' for the Miracle

Monday, September 1, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Last Saturday arrived as a misty, overcast day here in LA, punching a hole in my plans to photograph an old building in fine morning sunlight.  That project torpedoed, I diverted my attention to a day-job project, a label design.  About the time I wrapped the project, I mused to my spousal unit that the sun had just arrived about seven hours tardy in early afternoon.

I took a further glance out the window and observed lingering clouds, a set of conditions that portend a dramatic sunset if those conditions see fit to persist.  Savoring the possibilities, I loaded up gear and sallied forth with plans to conclude the trip at Saracen Lake (nee Lake Pine Bluff), an impoundment at the north end of our fair city.  The vista at the lake from east to west is uncluttered — a perfect place for dramatic sunsets dripping a bit of reflection into the water.


Birds, Cattle, Donkey

With a bit of time to kill before the lake conditions were just right, I ran another trap to grab an image.  These cattle are close to town and always an easy target.  This time I found a bonus of cattle egrets with the bovines, plus of couple of donkeys, only one of which you see here.  The birds, cattle and donkeys move as a unit through the pasture.

It's Show Time.

After fruitless swing through nearby boondocks, I headed to the lake to see if what I expected would materialize.  My prognostications were correct.


Let the Games Begin.

Sunset was to be at 7:34.  By 7:15, the clouds were sinking to the horizon, letting a ribbon of orange peek through.  The wait was on.


Swing Around.

If you really get lucky during these post-crappy weather sunsets, there is also a good cloud structure to the east.  In this case we tasted that luck.  This shot is a 180 from the previous image.


Beginning to Percolate

By 7:25, business started to pick up.  The sun was poking holes in the cloud structure, allowing its gold to leak through.


It's a Good Thing.

By 7:36, it was becoming apparent that good things were going to happen.


The Hoped-for Hole

Five minutes after sunset, a nice hole was developing in the clouds.  Six minutes later, the hole had developed to the picture you saw at the top of the page, all of which lends credence to the concept of not leaving before the miracle happens.

Once a sunset starts, shoot early and often, wait and stay late.  The scene is like an amoeba on steroids.  If you are lucky, you grab a few magic moments.


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as a hungry egret nails his fish, nearly loses it, and finally gulps it down.
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