photo of the week

A Seven-Fold Amen

It is 7:55:47 p.m. on June 27, 2015.  Setting over Saracen Lake, the sun has moved into the critical stage.  It’s the seven-fold Amen for this Saturday — and now’s the time to start shooting.

Anatomy of a Sunset

Sunday, June 28, 2015
Pine Buff, Arkansas

I have a few rules for shooting sunsets, the first two of which are paramount to see and capture the entire process:  One, get there before it starts; Two, stay there until after it’s over for the last hurrah.  Three, mount the camera level on a tripod, use a cable release, and shoot early and often.

Fortunately, I reside just minutes away from what I consider to be one of the finest locations on the planet to observe and/or photograph sunsets, to wit:  the southeast shoreline of Saracen Lake in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  From that point, I am shooting over a long expanse of water toward a low, uncluttered horizon, with nothing but a whole bunch of due west behind it.  On this occasion, I set-up on the northwest corner of the Saracen Landing pavilion.

The afternoon skies were full of fluffy clouds, most of which will normally dissipate about the time of sunset unless they are connected to a storm.  These weren’t, but it appeared that a few would stick around — and that would make for a nice sunset.  My prognosis was correct.

This particular sunset was more or less tame.  The changes it went through as it matured were subtle — not so on many sunsets, which move and reshape like a wad of snakes.  Despite the benign behavior of the sunset,  I found it necessary to change the focus point a number of times.  It is my theory that each sunset offers a sackfull of different images if you work at it.


7:59:59 p.m.

The sun is dropping to the tree line and intensifying the color.  Got lucky with the bird.


8:05:34 p.m.

The sun is about to kiss the top of the treeline.


8:05:57 p.m.

Just a few seconds later, I pull back for a wider view of the lake and sunset for a completely new look.


8:06:32 p.m.

The sun is touching the tree line.  The end is near.  Time to pan right, left, and then back home for the grand finale.


08:09:31 p.m.

Zoom in and pan right.


08:09:31 p.m.

Pan left.


08:10:00 p.m.

Swing back home and in less than a minute it will be over.


08:10:42 p.m.

Ibadee, Ibadee, Ibadee, that’s all folks.  See you in the morning.


08:10:31 p.m.

A quick pull back for a glimpse of the lake at the magic moment.


08:10:31 p.m.

And back in a bit for one last look.

Figure 30 to 45 minutes for a good sunset watch/shoot subject to your setup time.  Depending on cloud formations and humidity levels, there will occasionally be really good shots available for five to 10 minutes or so after the sun sets.  This one faded like the last rose of summer once it bottomed out.


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But wait, there's more!
See the sunset at Saracen
a week and two days earlier
at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.
Different clouds, and a different look.
Click, go and enjoy.

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