I've been pretty good with in my current assignment, capturing the daily sunset, only missing the three or four rainy days in the last month. These sunsets are special to us this time of year, sinking as they do into the ocean.
Unlike my friends on the west coast, I only get to see ocean sunsets during the late fall through the winter. In other words, when it's cold. But since moving back to Long Beach after seven years, and being less than five minutes from the water, I committed to creating a series of pictures, partly to see if I could look at a common photographic theme in a different way every day, and partly to have a specific appointment at a regular time.
But finding that new way to see the sunset every night is getting to be a challenge. The basic landscape never changes: the ocean is always going to be on the left, a wide shot will have the the apartment towers on the right. If I'm shooting from Pacific Blvd, then there's always going to be one rock standing above the others on that groin straight ahead..
What makes the pictures what they are is the weather. That's all. I just have to get there on time. The weather is going to determine if there's clouds or not, and what kind of clouds they'll be. The clouds are going to make the color, the winds and the tides affect the surf, and so on. I check the Navel Observatory site for the sunset time, and make sure my batteries are fresh. If there's been storm activity or the tides are up, I'll bring a telphoto zoom to catch any surfers.
The pictures here are from Saturday, November 20, 2010. It had been a windy day, with high, thin clouds and bright sunshine. By mid-afternoon the sky was lightly clouded over. Coming home from the market, I thought I'd have the night off, but when I got upstairs there was some pale color visible through high, broken clouds. I put the groceries away, grabbed a camera and headed out.
Five minutes later found me on a windswept beach, neutral gray clouds meeting the water, a small open patch of orange a few degrees above the horizon, a patch the sun had already descended below. The sky above the clouds was a rich blue, which threw its color-cast on the sand, making everything especially dull. Like I said, this is a challenge. These two were today's best shots, and I consider them to be among the weakest in the bunch so far. But they taught me something.
I left the beach a block west of where I came on, and walked home along Shore Road, a narrow street with apartment buildings on both sides. I got to Pacific, the Broadway, where I passed three more towers before getting to my block. My point is, I'm walking home through this canyon of sorts, never looking behind me until I look up to see this beautiful rose-colored cloud high in the eastern sky over my house. I realize what I'm going to see if I turn around, so I simply went upstairs and went straight out onto the deck.
|November 20, 2010 - Panorama made from 12 frames|
Lesson learned. It's a different show every night, so don't leave till the fat lady sinks.