When it catches fire
Can you ever tire of a sunset? In lieu of yesterday’s post about the mutability of the river, this evening it rendered a full on show. My greatest pride in the capture is that I knew it was coming. Early in the afternoon, I watched as flat, patchy clouds were gathering in what is referred to as the mackerel sky (cirrocumulus). And since they were off the horizon, I knew the sun would catch them on fire once it slipped below them. When I arrived to this spot, an interesting surprise was in store.
Quick backstory. For years I have encountered balanced stones along the river. Stones roughly a foot long stacked up sometimes 10-15 high in intricate designs that look like small models of ancient monolithic structures. As I was getting my gear together, I met North Watt, the man behind these stone balances. But North had some bad news and told me had been banished from the area (for thirty days) by a park ranger for balancing the stones. (I know, right). The given reason was that the stones were on the river bank to prevent erosion. I understand the truth behind that reason, but on the other hand, it’s pretty asinine BS. I would understand if North has been hoisting up the large stones or throwing the stones in the river when he was finished. He pulls from the edge, balances a few, and photographs them with other landscape elements in the background. Usually by the next day they have tumbled back into the recesses from which they were lifted. It gets under my skin a bit because of all the real environmental detriments to the river I see during my excursions, detriments a bit more worthwhile in policing. In the end though, we hung out and photographed a remarkable and glorious sunset.
The top image on this post is a stitch of four exposures. My wide-angle lens could get all the way around this cloud formation. Besides stitching, it is pretty much SOOC. The only adjustment I made was to the white balance in LR before sending to Photoshop to stitch. The below image was right when sun dipped into that sweet spot of clear sky between the clouds and horizon. Maybe 3 minutes later did it transform into the red fire of the first photograph. With this one, I manually blended two exposures in Lightroom, trying out a cross-balancing technique. For one image I kicked the white balance up to 7500k, and for another one that was taken at +1EV, I applied a cooler white balance of around 3500k. I then manually blended parts of the cooler sky and foreground into the warmer photography using layer masks.