Last week when I wrote this blog, I was mainly focusing on some compositions that I did around a group of boulders in the lake at Inks Lake State Park. I was happy with these photos and also had some images from another nearby place along the shore that I had tried. I didn’t feel like I had gotten what I wanted from the second location so I decide to try again a few days later and hold that off for another blog post. Below is the first photo from June 30. I thought it was OK, but it could be better.
I like the composition with the exposed rock pointing to the horizon and the hint of another boulder just beneath the water to the right. But the sunset was a real dud that evening. I expected those high clouds to light up with beautiful colors but the thick clouds on the horizon ended up blocking most of the nice sunlight. The foreground rocks are dull and not eye-catching. The smoothed out lake and sky aren’t very interesting. I shot this in bulb mode using a remote shutter release and my phone to time the exposure.
I went back again on Sunday evening, July 8, dodging rain clouds. I was hoping and expecting the clouds to move out of the western sky at sunset leaving a nice light show. I returned to my position on the shore and spent quite a bit of time trying to get my tripod set up in a good location. I wanted my tripod as low as I could get it to get the rocks to show up prominently in the photo. My tripod has a center column, which keeps it from getting as low as I wanted for this photo. I took some test shots and waited. I had mainly a cloudy sky to see, but was hoping for a break in the clouds.
I used an app on my phone called PhotoPills to determine where the sun was and where it would set. Once calibrated, this app works quite well for predicting the sun, the moon, and the milky way galactic core, and I am quite happy with it. It has an augmented reality mode that overlays the position of the sun or moon with what you see through the camera. You can set whatever date and time you want and predict where to get a sunrise or sunset at a certain location; quite handy. Below is a screen capture that I took while using the app.
You can see I had a bit of a wait in front of me, hoping those clouds would move off a bit and let the sun shine through as it neared the horizon. In the mean time it sprinkled a bit on me, so I threw a rain hood over my camera and stood under a tree.
At about 8:19PM, the sun was right where it was predicted to be and passed through a well-placed gap in the clouds. I got a nice sparkle around the sun and a reflected line reaching all the way across the lake to light up the rocks at my feet. The below picture is the best I got from the evening.
This was a 20 second exposure with a 10-stop ND filter attached. I set the focus so that the detail in the foreground rocks would show up well. I considered removing the buoys from the photo, but they aren’t really in the way. I experimented with a grad filter to bring up the exposure on the lake, but my daughter said it looked better without this adjustment. I love the detailed texture that I got in the rocks in the foreground outlined by the yellow sunlight. I could do without the tree branch in the upper left, but it was there.
It didn’t take long for the sun to get back behind those thick clouds, but at least it came out for a few minutes and let me photograph it. After the sun went down, there was no beautiful afterglow of clouds that I have been hoping for. I keep imagining this image that I got from Gruene Texas in March reflected across the lake. So far, I have not been able to capture this at the lake.
I will return to this site a few more times before the sun moves too far to the South for this composition to work. It is nice to have a Texas State Parks Pass so that I can just go to this location whenever I want without paying an entry fee to the park.
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