From the balcony of my home in Alberta, Canada, I see little of the sunset for much of the year. But springtime brings the sun on it's long, slow, northern journey to a point beyond the foothills within reach of my camera. I am fortunate to see many great sunsets from the balcony, but because I do, I photograph few of them.
But, as the sun reached it's northern maximum this week, it put on another wonderful display and I couldn't resist making a few images of the spectacular skies above the foothills. I made this simple three shot panorama with my 100 - 400 mm lens, at 135 mm handheld, though I do use a deck pillar to support my elbows. Aperture is f/5.6 and ISO at 200. I kept only a small portion of the foothills using the extended rule of thirds principle to give more of the frame to the sky, exaggerating the scale.
The colours move wonderfully from blue, through red to yellow, before contrasting with the black silhouette of the mountains beneath. The red diagonal from lower left to upper right carries us through the image rather than it being staged in straight lines, and the dark upper, works well with the silhouetted lower portion to form a letterbox vignette across the whole frame.
Admittedly, it's not an image for the portfolio but it's a wonderful memory of the summer solstice 2020 and an evening with my wife watching the sunset, what could be better.
We all have one, to be honest we all have a number of them. Those locations that didn't work out on the day, the only day or time we had there, and we missed. They stick in our minds and bug us, like fishermen who are landing a huge fish, and after a good battle they are nearing the net, only to see the prize slip from the hook and elude capture, here's one of my 'fish'.
During a road trip to Grasslands National Park I found a tree on the Saskatchewan prairie that was perfect. Sitting in a clear dip in the land, and able to be picked out of the landscape entirely, leaving only the sky behind it as a background, what potential. Except on the day I was there it was green, lush spring green with a blue sky behind and more lush green grass in the foreground. I grabbed a shot in order to remember the location and potential but it didn't do justice to the possibility here.
Months later I found myself passing the location in the fall, it's quite close to the main highway, so I turned onto the gravel track and made the detour. This time the little cottonwood tree was turning, past it's best but still beautiful. The grass in the foreground was dried and yellowing in the late autumn sun. I drove a good way past as planned, and then stopped to make the shot. I used the 100 - 400 mm lens at 400 mm with an aperture of f5.6 to blur the foreground further reducing the impact of the grass and better isolating the tree. The low sun clipped across the top of the grasses in the foreground and caught the tree with all it had on the day, but that wasn't much. The setting sun was weak and shrouded in low hazy cloud, leaving the sky a flat fading blue.
Don't get me wrong, it's a nice shot, but it's not the shot I had envisioned. I still believe the right sunrise here would make for a spectacular image, that's the one I thought of as soon as I saw the location.. A good sunset might do the same as the tree can be shot from either side but there could be some composition issues due to access constraints from the other side. A milky way over the tree, starlight shot with a little light painting, or star trail shot could also work, but for me the right sunrise is the shot.
In the mean time I'll make do with this image as a reminder of one of my top ten 'one that got away' locations.
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