Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nature's show

One the great things about living out in the country, is the bonus of a great sky to be able to look at and enjoy. Sometimes it's just grey clouds for days and days, but occasionally you get to see something really nice, and if you look at the right time you get to see something downright spectacular. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a morning person, although on occasion I do have the reason to get up in the morning. When I do, I look at the sky. I'm more of a sunset person. I love to watch the sun go down. I like to see it sinking into the trees, as is my normal view. However, on certain occasions, I will be where I can see it sinking slowly into some great body of water. Some times it is aGreat Lake, and a couple of times it has been the Pacific Ocean. I have also had the pleasure of seeing it dip into the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. I have begun a collection of sunsets for this year, and I'm sharing a few with you.

This pic is a nice one that I had fun trying to capture in just the right way so that it looked balanced. The reflection on the bottom side is from the hood of my truck, after a day of rain and snow all the salt residue has been washed off the hood and it was so clean and shiny that it looks like a mirror reflection. The hard part was getting the shutter speed and aperture set just right so that the sky didn't wash out and the reflection didn't disappear. I think it came out pretty darn good! I have found that to get the best versions of the amazing colors that are present in a sunset I have to play around with shutter speeds and apertures to get the same colors in the picture as I'm seeing with my (nowhere near perfect) eyes. Sometimes I take 10 pictures in less than 2 minutes with a raft of settings trying to find just the right one. I have also found that my mini-tripods are a great help in this too. When I am using a way slow shutter speed, setting the timer and letting go of the camera gives me a great exposure and unless it's windy a pretty smooth finish.

I have found that to show the seasons , I like to shoot the same basic scenes, this way I can see some progression and change. One of my favorite scenes is this set of pines in my neighbor's field. They stand tall and lonely, but when the sun sets behind them, the silhouette just catches my attention. I love to see what the sun does behind them and how the colors seem to break out around them. This particular picture was taken in the cold and it was all I could do to keep my fingers from frosting as I was taking the pics. The air temp was in the high teens and the windchill took it down below zero. But I persevered and captured my colors!

The first time I ever drove into Cleveland, Ohio, I was headed west on I-90, and driving into the setting sun on an August evening. I was stunned by the color of the sky, it looked like it was on fire. If you have ever seen the movie image of molten iron being poured, this was the color of the sky. Just so bright and looking like liquid fire. So later that night, I was commenting to my mother how much I loved that sunset, and she brought me back to reality, she said, " Isn't it amazing what air pollution does for the view?" So now no matter what I think of the beauty of the sunset, I always hear my Mother's words and remember that it isn't the pristine beauty that I am enjoying, but the result of the crap pumped into the air. Sure, it brings global warming. Acorrding to some scientists. Other would argue, but I look at the ice caps. They are eroding. This tells me that something is getting warmer someplace. I read something recenty that said that the while the Arctic Icecap is shrinking, the Antarctic Icecap is expanding. I can't believe that, because huge sheets and shelfs are breaking off and floating away. Maybe it's getting deeper in limited places, but over all it is not growing.

The best part about trying to capture sunsets, is that you get a chance to see one every day. The potential is always there. You never know when you will see something that completely blows your mind. On those perfect nights when the air is warm and the wind is calm, you can sit through the entire gamut of colors as the sun settles down into the horizon. As the sky darkens and the light stretches farther and father and gets more and more red into the purples and violets, and then the darkness comes, and the stars and planets come into view. Some days you can see Mercury chasing the sun over the horizon, followed quickly by bright Venus. Other times you have the bonus of the rising moon to light the way back to the house. In the summer you can share the sunset with someone that you love and stay warm and feel like you're the only two people left in the world. In the winter, you can watch as long as you can stand the cold. Your breath coming in little clouds. In the spring it may be hidden by some rain clouds, but if you pay attention occasionally the clouds part at just the right time and you are treated to the beauty of nature doing what she does best. Showing off.

Sometimes we get busy and forget that this little show is put on every night. Sometimes we get great reception, and sometimes we don't, but when it comes in clear, it's always worth watching. I hope you all have plenty of sunsets left to see.

BTW, click on any picture to see it biggerized!!!

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