Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 by Reed Hoffmann
One evening this week I decided to shoot some photos at dusk and was reminded there's a right way and a wrong way to chase a sunset.
Whenever we visit a National Park, we always try to spend at least one night in the main lodge. They’re almost always wonderful old buildings in beautiful locations, with a warm and friendly great room and good food. At Crater Lake it’s on the southwest corner of the rim near the trailhead to Garfield Peak. The first morning there we took the ranger hike to the top of Garfield, and I realized on the way back down that the trail would offer some nice spots to shoot sunset.
That evening after dinner I asked Sharon and Rachel if they’d mind me taking a walk to shoot some pictures. They were both quite happy to relax and read, so I grabbed my camera bag and headed off. The light was perfect – warm and golden, just before sunset – so I looked forward to some of the spots I’d scouted earlier. I didn’t want to shoot the sunset itself, just use its light on some of those old trees and rock formations. The first spot I got to worked fine, but after that I realized I’d made a big mistake. Sharon and I had been relaxing and enjoying the view from the verandah, and I started too late.
I knew where the sun was going to set, but hadn’t realized there were trees and rock outcroppings that might block its light from the areas I wanted to shoot. So each time I got to one of those spots, I’d already missed the light. Which meant I kept climbing and climbing, trying to get higher to where the light was as the sun kept dropping further. And failing.
The evening wasn’t a total loss. For one thing, I had a nice evening walk (and the mosquitos enjoyed me). And, as I kept climbing higher, walking away from the sun, I noticed a great cloud formation above Union Peak. Which reminded me of something I often tell students: “don’t forget to look behind you, there may be a nice picture there.” So I didn’t get the shots I was hoping for, but instead got something unexpected that I like even more. And that’s not a bad way to end the day.