Last Minute

Stormy Sunset — Jordan Lake, NC  © jj raia

Stormy Sunset — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

With some storm clouds breaking up late last Sunday afternoon, I thought there might be the possibility of a great sunset. So I headed toward a favorite spot at Jordan Lake, but realized as I was driving, it would be too far south to where the sky had already cleared completely. So I was forced to frantically search for a spot where the lake would line up looking out toward the remaining clouds that covered only half the sky.

Without much success checking some of the other usual spots, time was running out for sunset, and I had to pull over at a place that seemed to have a trail leading off the road toward the lake that might have possibilities. I had never been there before and followed the trail through the mud to the edge of the lake, but there wasn’t any pleasant surprise waiting for me. By now, going anywhere else was out of the question, there was absolutely no time to scout for some foreground interest, or search for the best possible spot in this new location. The light was happening right now, and all I could do was throw the camera onto the tripod and use the edge of the lake as a leading line toward the drama unfolding. I didn’t want to take a long exposure to smooth the water since it would also blur the clouds that would then lose all their texture, and finally felt it best to have texture in both. I took about 6 frames, each 1-stop apart, to cover the dynamic range, and didn’t bother with the split ND filter that is usually added, being very short on time.

I’m not very sharp in Photoshop skills, and did my best to blend a few of the frames together since the HDR feature in Lightroom seemed to work, but when it was finished, the new combined photo never appeared! The scene was kept dark in the processing to maintain the mood, avoiding the temptation to brighten the grasses on the right, which made it look too artificial.

Other compositions were attempted after the light in the sky disappeared, but there are times when you know deep down that it’s over. And this was one of those times. At least I didn’t waste any film.

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