Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Quickly fading light review, part of Travel Photography: The Maine Coast.
- One of the biggest challenges of photographing around sunset, of course, is that the light is changing fast and before too long the color and the light are simply going to disappear. And that was certainly the case with this photo shoot. I had been cruising around various areas of Acadia National Park, near Bar Harbor in Maine. And came upon this park that I had not been familiar with previously, Thompson Island Park. And the view there was magnificent. You were on a small island looking across the water at these trees. There were some very nice clouds in the sky and the light was simply remarkable.
I did not have very much time, however. I had been photographing at a couple of other locations. I almost thought that I was sort of done for the day. I was happy with the shots that I had got in previous locations, but the shadows were starting to grow across the scene and so those areas were no longer working. This was sort of a lucky find at the very end of the day and there just wasn't much time to work. So this is the initial shot that I captured. Overall, I'm happy with it. It's certainly not something that I'm necessarily going to hang on the wall.
It's not one of my best photographs, to be sure. But it's an image of a very nice scene. And, well, very good memories being in a beautiful location under wonderful lighting conditions. I also used a neutral density filter to achieve a longer exposure. In fact, a 30 second exposure, and I'll switch to that image now. You can see, still very wonderful light. The light had been changing a bit, coming and going a little bit because there were clouds that at times block the sun. So you can see a little bit different lighting but the water now has been smoothed out.
Even the clouds have been smoothed out. They have a more pastel sort of painterly effect because they were moving during that 30 second exposure. So between the two images, this would certainly be my favorite. And I like the very calm, sort of nuanced nature that we have. The wonderful late afternoon light. We have a little bit of play of light and shadow. The trees look very nice. The clouds look great and I like the water a lot more with that smoother effect. Of course, just moments later I was losing the light. And you can see here, the shadows are starting to get a little bit too long.
They're starting to cover the shore over on the right hand side parts of the trees. You can also see that the clouds in the background are really starting to lose their color. And so, essentially, I was done for the day. There was some very nice color in the clouds in the distance. And the clouds looked wonderful. But as is often the case with clouds, if they have wonderful color, probably the foreground doesn't have much light because of the very low light angle. In fact, this was just after sunset and the high clouds are simply picking up the color of that sunset. And so this really is a very difficult shot to do anything with.
Beautiful to experience. Wonderful to be there and see the color on those clouds, but not really a photograph that's going to work very well. That didn't stop me from trying. I decided to try to incorporate the fading light, the color in the clouds, and the reflections on the water. But, here you can see a little bit of a cluttered scene. I even tried to simplify the scene making sure that I was including as little as possible, essentially, in that foreground. A relatively clean foreground in terms of composition with just the one main rock in the foreground.
A long exposure, again, to smooth out the water. But now, all the rest of the clutter really to me makes this photo not really worth keeping. You can see lots of little grasses and other plants, a few rocks in the foreground. And as far as I'm concerned, that's very distracting. In theory, some of the smaller areas off in the distance of clutter, I can clean those up very simply. But the foreground really would take a lot of work, and I'm not sure that cleaning it up would really accomplish much. Because, frankly, it's not that great of shot, all things considered anyway.
You can see that the light is already gone from the trees off in the distance. The only thing that's getting any light are those clouds up in the sky. That's creating some wonderful color. It's creating a wonderful experience standing there being able to see the wonderful light playing on those clouds. The only drawback was that the mosquitoes had come out, of course. And I was getting bit quite a lot. But I had already gotten that shot earlier when the sun was still up, late afternoon light. The rest of these shots, I think, just simply weren't working. But that one image of the smooth water, the pastel clouds, and the wonderful light on the trees.
Certainly an image that I'm happy with. Not one of my favorite photos from all of Maine, or from all of my photographic experience, but am image that I'm happy to have and happy to keep. And more importantly, perhaps, I'm happy to have recorded the experience so that I can remember the wonderful light over the water as the sun was going down on the coast of Maine.