Friday, February 16, 2024

The accidental sunset

If you wait a little...
London, ON
February 2024
This photo originally shared on Instagram

There’s a park not far from our house that I’ve been visiting more frequently of late.

As sunset approaches, I’ll watch the skies from the house to figure out whether or not it’ll be worth the walk over. It needs be partly cloudy, as full overcast hides the show, while a perfectly clear sky is just boring. Things get fun with just the right amount of cloud.

On this particular day, it looked promising when I left the house, But by the time I got to the park, the fast-moving clouds had given way to largely blue - and boring - skies.

I almost didn’t take the camera out of its bag, and took a few quick test shots with my phone in a lame attempt to convince myself I hadn’t completely wasted my time.

As I turned for home, something felt…off, as if a little voice was telling me to stay out there despite all the evidence that the shoot was destined to be an optical and meteorological washout. So I leaned against a nearby maple tree and listened to the winds.

As the sun disappeared below the tree line, tiny wisps of cloud appeared between the branches. The light shifted to an ethereal tone of gold. High overhead, jet planes left flowing contrails behind as they sped toward destinations unknown. The washout had become somewhat salvageable.

It wasn’t the best sunset I’d ever seen, but I’m slowly learning that “best” doesn’t matter as much as “at all”.

What DID matter? That I got out there. That I hung around a bit longer. That I tripped the shutter regardless of what played out in the sky on the other side of the glass.

As the light finally faded and I turned for home, I was strangely uninterested in what I had captured on the memory card. I was just glad I had taken the time.

This photography thing teaches me something new every time I pick up the camera. This time it was the fact that craft can matter more than outcome if we’re patient enough.

Next time? No idea, but I look forward to standing on the edge of the park before sunset so I can figure it out.

Maybe the clouds will show up. Maybe they won’t. Doesn’t really matter.

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Sunrise, sunset, November 2020
Electric sky, November 2020

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