Too often in life, I find myself rushing through the day busy with errands, chores or work, rarely stopping to take in God’s creation around me.
Even when Veronica and I go for hikes, I rarely stop and just enjoy nature. Generally, we are after a goal or a sight or the top of a mountain or whatever, but it’s not often that we stop and sit and listen to the nothingness that comes with nature – taking time from our busy lives to truly get away from it all.
A great example of this is sunsets. Most of my life, I’d see a pretty sunset, smile and maybe snap a quick photo and move on.
The rise in point-and-shoot digital cameras and camera equipped cell phones made it all too easy to grab a quick shot and call it good. Getting amazing photos with these devices is pretty rare. Recently, though, as Veronica and I have found a bit more passion for photography we’ve been really trying to take our time to get good photos. That includes waiting for good lighting, stopping and thinking about what is and isn’t in the shot, and biding our time for the perfect shot.
I’ve worked with a lot of amazing photographers in my career as a journalist, and while I likely will never be as good as they are, I’ve tried to pick up tidbits here and there.
One example was when Veronica and I flew to Los Angeles to attend my friend Scott Frasnelly’s wedding last fall. We stayed two nights in Manhattan Beach, which offered stunning views of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. The first night, I snapped a few photos of the sun when it descended, but didn’t bother to really work for anything special, just figuring a quick in and out job would work.
That was reflected in the shots. They were acceptable, but nothing special.
Our second night staying on the beach, we went down to Venice Beach so Catarina could play in the sand. This time I decided to wait until the sun actually set – much to the annoyance, I think, of Veronica, Catarina and Veronica’s parents, who were with us. But it was well worth it. I got some great shots of the sun playing on the top of a breaking wave, and I also used some objects to give the sunset some depth, including a bird and a sailboat.
Fast forward to this spring, and I’ve tried to do the same type of thing at Chambers Bay Park. We were lucky to buy a house within half a mile of the park – which also features the Chambers Bay Golf Course, which will host the U.S. Open June 15-21. Recently, I walked down to enjoy a sunset.
The view has a lot to offer. There is the Puget Sound, the one tree at Chambers Bay, a few islands and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. The night I shot these particular photos, I lucked out that there were a few clouds, and that there was a barge making its way to the Tacoma Narrows. This gave me the opportunity to frame the boat in between the sunlight and the tree.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from my photographer friends is trying to frame shots. Doing this in landscape art can be difficult at times, but it is well worth it.
Anyway, next time you find yourself watching a sunset, stop and enjoy the moment and don’t take such beauty for granted.
If you want some good professional advice, read my friend Kai Huei-Yau’s blog from when he worked at the Tri-City Herald. It’s funny and informative, though no longer active.
– Craig Craker