As this year draws to a close and winter sets in, I find myself taking more time to slow down. Reflecting on the past year full of successes and failures, gains and losses, helps to focus me back to the present and strengthens my resolve for the new year that is fast approaching.
Watching this particular sunset from the deck of my pontoon boat on J. Percy Priest Lake near Nashville gave me the opportunity for some photographic reflection not long ago. I had been out for a few hours and was heading back to the dock when I saw a bank of clouds beginning to form. The sky had been crystal clear all afternoon, so I wasn’t expecting the sunset to be particularly interesting. But things changed quickly as the clouds drifted across the sinking sun.
I wasn’t in a rush to leave the lake, so I anchored in a small cove to see how the sunset would develop. In about 30 minutes, a few more clouds drifted by, and the conditions began to look favorable for an interesting shot.
Shooting directly into the sun creates a few technical issues. Allowing the camera to decide the settings for this particular scene would have led to an overexposed image. The bright light would have confused the camera as it calculated the correct exposure. I switched to manual mode and metered on the blue sky above the sunset to take an initial exposure.
Based on that reading, I chose the lowest ISO speed to allow my f-stop to be set at 22 with a shutter speed that would be fast enough to freeze any movement from me holding the camera and the slight movement of the boat. I chose f22 so I could capture the starburst of light as the sun broke through the clouds.
The clouds acted as a filter, casting the sun’s light into rays. This ever-changing interaction of sunlight and clouds lasted about 10 minutes and ended as the sun sank below the horizon.
Thinking back as I edited this image, I was thankful I wasn’t in a rush that day and chose to wait on a shot that might or might not materialize.
Photography has a way of always teaching me something. On this afternoon, I chose to settle in and be patient for a few minutes — and I was handsomely rewarded. I’m planning to practice patience throughout the upcoming busy holiday season and into the new year. I suppose there really is a reason that patience is a virtue.