Just another rambling fool at WordPress.com

River Valley

I live in an area fondly referred to as the Connecticut River Valley. I never really thought about that very much until I started taking pictures. In a nutshell, it means that no matter where I go, the sun is going to rise or set behind a ridge. And that means the sunrise or sunset is always going to be better in a spot where I’m not. I don’t live in a place that’s surrounded by flat, wide, expansive vistas. Instead, the landscape is craggy and littered with power lines and dense woods.  It’s enormously frustrating to know there’s a gorgeous sunrise or sunset forming on the horizon, but you’re powerless to get someplace where you can shoot it.


This picture was taken at Bashan Lake. The opposite side of the lake has provided some stunning sunrise photos, but on this side of the lake the road is slightly higher.  I thought it would be a good place to capture a sunset.  Wrong.  In many places houses, trees or power lines blocked the view and when I finally found a suitable place to shoot, the sun dropped like a rock behind the opposite ridge. I caught some nice shadows and a bit of orange glow, but I could tell that was the end of the show. Normally, I follow the golden rule that you “don’t pack until it’s black,” but it was very cold and I had a few errands to run. I loaded up my car, drove out the narrow lake road and proceeded back toward my neighborhood, all the while glancing over my left shoulder at the bright crimson glow just over the horizon. My car finally crested a steep rise and I got a five second view of a stunning sunset. I groaned.


Countless mornings I’ve sat right in my office and watched the most gorgeous sunrises, but I know from past experience that, short of pointing my camera directly at the sky, I don’t have a chance in hell of capturing them. I’ve heard it said that the best photos are usually taken just a ten or fifteen minute drive from your own house, but I’m thinking maybe that rule doesn’t apply here, or at least not if you’re hoping to capture a nice landscape. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this. Either I’m going to have to get up a lot earlier and drive a lot farther to get the kind of sunrises I want, or I’m going to have to learn to deal with the frustration of being disappointed a lot.



Jan. 16, 2011. 5:27 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 19mm, 1/15 sec, f/22.

Lens: Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 DiII

Lightroom 3: Minor brightness, contrast adjustment.

6 responses

  1. I like this one better than the last. I can relate to your frustrations. I was shooting a sunset not long ago and had a hard time composing the shot due to the houses and power lines. Now if and when someone can create a nice shot despite those, that’s when you know you’re getting somewhere.

    Might I suggest you find your camera manual, and read a bit about bracketing. Bring a tripod to the next one and play around with that method. Leave it in manual mode so that the focus won’t change at all between shots, and you can maybe overlay the images in your photo program to get the best of the details in the landscape as well as in the sky. It’s something I really should do more often as well, and honestly I think unless you are dealing with polarizing filters etc, it’s the only way photographers can get good exposure in both foreground and sky.

    That way, you can begin to master the light of the sunsets and sunrises, so that if and when you are in the right place to allow for an uncluttered shot, you won’t be kicking yourself for not knowing how to capture it better. Maybe we both can do this project together, I will watch the sky and see if it allows me any shots.
    Good luck, and keep shooting

    January 17, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    • Yes, the curse of the dreaded power lines … how I hate that! Part of the problem is that I don’t spend enough time just cruising around the local area and looking for views that I can break down into smaller scenes. I really NEED to do this and yet I procrastinate, hoping that through the intervention of magical power I’ll venture out and find some previously undiscovered open and gorgeous vista. Ain’t gonna happen!

      That said, every time I do find a good location and the cards align properly, I try to take at least a couple of bracketed shots. I’ve kept a bunch for a rainy day, when I might have a little extra time to play with HDR. I’ve yet to try any HDR processing, but perhaps if I can get through a week or two without a major crisis in my life I’ll sit down and tinker. I hear the weather tomorrow is supposed to be a beast … perhaps I’ll try it then!

      Thanks for dropping by to commiserate and offer some suggestions!

      January 17, 2011 at 6:07 PM

  2. marc

    How cool is this picture? Wow! nuf said.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    • Thanks Marc! I was just glad I got a couple of keepers!

      January 17, 2011 at 6:08 PM

  3. I think you have a beautiful photo (again), although I would love to see this bracketed and composited into an HDR image. A split ND filter might help if you don’t want to go the HDR route.

    I can empathize with you on finding locations to shoot. I’m getting burned out on shooting urban scenes, and I’m not getting out of town enough to find much else. I know the photos are out there, but it’s a constant struggle to find the inspiration to ‘see’ the photos.

    I’ll tell you what a friend told me; just because you’ve seen it a hundred times, don’t forget that others are seeing it for the first time. I’ve never visited your part of the country, and I’m loving your photos. Each one is a new vista for me, and helps me visualize the kinds of scenes to look for in my own environment. Hang in there.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    • Van: every time I pop over to your blog I’m just amazed by what you’ve done! You’ve shot some really incredible photos that I never in a million years would have been able to see in the way that you’ve presented them. So yes, I suppose it’s good that we try to find some new and exciting stuff in our local region to share with others. Familiarity does seem to make us blind to the beauty of our own surroundings, doesn’t it?

      Thanks for the gentle nudge of encouragement!

      January 19, 2011 at 11:49 AM

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