Searching a Sunset in Forsyth County

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I had planned on heading out to Stone Mountain for a day long hike with (hopefully) lots of pictures.  The weather changed a bit overnight and when I woke up, there were going to be precious little clouds to work with in Roaring Gap.  I decided to give up on that idea and stay in bed for a while longer.  When I got up, I wondered around for a bit around the house, and eventually changed the oil in the Chevy.  After that, I was noticing that the clouds were starting to come in a bit.  That gave me the idea to go and shoot a barn that I have tried to do several times here recently.

I loaded up the car and made my way out to the barn.  When I got there, I wasn't happy with what I saw once again.  There were just too many buildings behind the barn, and there was just no way to shoot this with the trees bare like they were.  While I had a workable sky, the picture just wasn't going to be what I wanted.  The decision was made to try again in late Spring, with some stormy skies.  For now, I was going to try and find a good location for a sunset, and see if there was anything else that I might want to shoot.

Well, the lighting was great for a change, but I just wasn't too happy with what I was seeing as far as subject matter.  I had a completely open mind for a change, and was looking for landscapes, old cars, and barns.  I would have looked for waterfalls, but there just aren't any on the back roads of Forsyth County.

As I was milling about on Sandy Ridge Rd, I saw an old medal sided shed that I had passed many times before.  It was set well off of the main road, and there was an American Flag, as well as 101st Air Cavalry markings on the side.  I had never stopped to shoot a picture here before, because while the decorations were pretty cool, the shed just lacked any punch for me.  Today was a bit different though.  Today, there were some deep clouds in the background, and the sun was poking through some holes on the other side of the road.  It was magic light!  I remember thinking to myself that great lighting can make a so so picture wonderful.  I decided to give it a shot...or two.

Air Cavalry
The hardest part here was actually getting the elements to line up just right.  You see, it was windy, and the clouds were moving very fast.  That meant that the lighting was changing almost by the second.  I didn't want to waste a lot of time finding the right composition, so I went with the view that caught my eye to start with.  I chose to use my 70-200mm lens to get the reach I needed from the side of the road.  With the clouds and lighting that I was seeing, there was no need for any filters, so I shot nekked...Get your mind out of the gutter!

It seemed that every time the wind died down, the sun would hide behind the clouds.  One of the most important parts of this scene was the flag on the side of the shed.  If it wasn't hanging straight, I lost the primary grab of the subject.  Without the lighting, the shed didn't pop against the clouds.  The intersection of those two elements were rather elusive, but I was able to get a couple of successful shots where everything lined up pretty well.  What you see above is one of the best ones where I managed to time the exposure at that perfect moment.

Golden Glow
Before I packed up my gear, I decided to put a little attention on the tree to the left that was catching the sunlight rather nicely as well.  It is odd to see buds on a tree in the first half of February, but then again, I was shooting with shorts and sandals in the middle of the Winter.  North Carolina weather is strange!

I used the reach of my long lens racked out to 200mm to frame the tree really close against the clouds.  Once again, I played a waiting game for the sun to bathe it in a warm glow.  This was much easier than trying to get it to correspond with the wind dying down too.  I grabbed a couple of shots where I was happy with the exposure, and called it a day for this location.

I continued on with my search, and tried to find some places I could shoot a sunset.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything else that could take advantage of the light I was seeing.  Also, I could see the clouds building up in a way that I was seriously doubting that I was going to see a good sunset.  With 30 some frames taken, I decided to quit while I was ahead.  I wanted to see what I had captured, and I was hoping that they turned out as good as I was thinking they would.

Tomorrow, I should be doing some hiking at Stone Mountain with some grand landscapes, and possibly some panoramas being shot.  I'm looking forward to my day in the mountains, and I have my fingers crossed that the forecast goes in my favor for a change.

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