Crepuscular rays, Danshui River, Taiwan. Craig Ferguson Images

Below The Horizon.

Out for a late afternoon walk close to home the other day and I managed to photograph the above scene. There are a couple of lessons I want to share with you regarding this. The title of this post, It Pays To Wait, is one of them and the other concerns an approach to photography that Stuart Sipahigil wrote about last year that has resonated with a lot of people. Before I get into those, a few details about the photograph for those of you who are curious about that kind of thing. It is of the crepuscular rays after the sun dips below the horizon as viewed looking over the Danshui River and out to sea. I shot it with a Canon 5D Mark II and 17-40mm lens at 17mm. The camera was mounted on a carbon fiber tripod and a 3-stop graduated neutral density filter was used to give an exposure time of 3.2 seconds at f16 ISO100.

It Pays To Wait

I hadn’t really set out to photograph the sunset in particular. Rather, I’d just gone out for a late afternoon walk along the river because it was such a nice day. As the sun started to sink, the sky around it was very clear and the sun itself was just an orange ball. As far as sunsets go, it was actually kind of boring, and I noticed a lot of tourists and day trippers shooting with camera phones and small digicams turned around to instead watch the almost full moon come up in the east. About 10 to 15 minutes after the sun set, the conditions came right and the sky produced the show you can see above. It only lasted a very short time, and I know a lot of photographers nearby were scrambling to get their gear back out of their bags and set their tripods up again. Conditions can and do change very quickly at that time of day, and it always pays to wait after the sun has gone down as you never know what nature has in store. An extra 10 or 20 minutes of patience can make all the difference between a great photograph and a failed photoshoot.

Close To Home

This shot is very much in keeping with the philosophy described in Stuart Sipahigal’s “Close To Home”. Great pictures can be found at your doorstep. It’s easy to look at the work of travel photographers, see their images and think that if only we could travel to Paris or Brasil or Tibet, we too could create great images. Or to look at the work of a landscape photographer and think that if we had the time to hike into the back country or high into the mountains we could produce works of art. Great photos though are available everywhere, and that includes close to your home. I’ve lived in a few different cities in a few different countries and I’ve always found inspiration at my doorstep. Grab your camera, head out your front door and take a walk. Stuart and fellow photographer Ray Ketchum are running the Close To Home workshops starting this month. If you’re interested, check them out.