The Final Sunset of 2022 or Was It?

The final sunset of 2022! Well not quite actually, as technically speaking there were two more after this. However, sunset on 29th December turned out to be the final “colourful” sunset of the year. Keep reading as I take you on a mini adventure.

Welcome back and thank you for joining me on another sunset adventure. Before I get started I would like to thank you all for supporting my photography in 2022. I am forever thankful of you support be it buying prints, sharing my blog posts or liking my images on social media. The kindness you have shown is overwhelming. Please allow me to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year and offer my best wishes for 2023.

If you have followed my photographic stories for a while or had the opportunity to talk to me about photography in person, you will probably understand how I love making photographs during the golden hours. However, In all honesty I prefer shooting during the hours surrounding sunrise. I believe this is mainly due to there being less people around and my perception that the air is cleaner earlier in the day. It may just be me but I also find the light to be softer on a morning and more contrasting on an evening.

Planning the shot

Just like many of my photography outings Plan A turned out to be a complete failure. My original plan being to shoot sunset on top of the Titterstone Clee Hill in Shropshire. Unfortunately the drive to the Clee Hills from my home is just over an hour. There is very little chance so late in the day that we would get there with sufficient time to park up, find a composition and you know… do my thing. As you may know I always shout about you need to arrive on location a good hour before sunset. After all, arriving early gives us the best chance to make the most of the golden light. I know, maybe I really should start to practice what I preach.

Plan B To the Rescue

So onto plan B, let’s go and shoot a woodland! Unfortunately after driving a few miles Plan B went out the window too. Turned out that today is a popular day to go out walking and therefore a complete parking nightmare. All our convenient lay-bys and nearby spots all taken up. Houston we have a problem!

Finally onto Plan C

In all honesty there is no “Plan C” but with my determination to make photographs and provide you with a story I immediately considered visiting a location Ive been to before. It’s not too far away and well suited to sunset photography. I’ll tell you now It’s pretty much a one shot location but it does feature a pretty amazing lone tree. Bonus!

Having arrived on location following a short drive we have successfully parked the car. Sat inside I can’t help but notice how several sheep (hundreds in fact) had congregated on a small hill within an adjacent field. I don’t make a habit of watching sheep and therefore have a very limited understanding of their activities and movements. Seeing how they had gathered into a tight cluster I was expecting to see a sheep dog in full throttle rounding them up. I soon realised the absence of a dog as the sheep swiftly moved en masse across the field. Maybe a coincidence, but it is just as the farmer arrived in his tractor. Anyway, my story is supposedly about photography so I think its best we move on…

Park and Shoot

One of the greatest things about this particular location is it can be described as “park and shoot”. There’s no hills to hike, stiles to climb or mud to meander. Just simply park and shoot.

Our first photograph is therefore to be made no more than 5 yards from where we have parked the car. The subject, our lone tree resides on the opposite side of the road to where we are stood. Its canopy bare and thick trunk partially hidden behind the hedge. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice a tractor peeking over the hedge in the lower right hand corner of the image. I didn’t really want to include this in our scene however at the time didn’t really have a lot of choice. As I have now had time to digest the image at home I quite like how it adds a sense of reality and provides context to the tree being located on a working farm. Let me know what you think.

Walking a few yards to the left but still located on the opposite side of the road to the tree I decided to capture a portrait shot. Placing the tree slightly off centre I gently swayed in all directions until I finally aligned the sun into the small gap between branches. Using a narrow aperture of f/22 on my telephoto lens I was able to introduce a subtle star effect around the sun. I have recently shared the image on Instagram and whilst the post is in it’s infancy it appears to be amongst the more popular posts I have made.

The Wider Scene

With the tractor now vacating the field we can make the short walk across the road and take our position within the closed gateway. Previously I have always placed this tree on the left hand side of the frame. Wanting to try something different this time I have opted to place the tree slightly off centre to the right. I felt this was an ideal position helping to split the cool blues from the warmer tones of the setting sun. Whilst I do like the resulting image I feel it is not very well balanced. Balance is a key compositional element within a photo and often helps to make a good image a much better one. Unfortunately In this composition the majority of the “visual weight” is on the right hand side and the image therefore appears unbalanced. Feel free to leave a comment below if you agree or disagree.

Switching Sides

With an aim of creating a more balanced image I recomposed placing the lone tree to the left of the frame. My thought being the brightness of the setting sun on the right hand side would balance the “visual weight” of the lone tree to the left. Although I do find this composition more appealing than the former I can’t avoid the fact I have slightly overexposed and blown out the highlights of the setting sun.

5 minutes Can Make A Difference

Whilst our final image is not really that different to the others I have shared I have included it for a specific reason. The sky can often make or break a photograph. In particular the height and volume of cloud cover can make a huge difference. Clouds often move a lot faster than you expect and what was virtually an image with clear sky 5 minutes ago is now half filled with dark clouds. You will also not that whilst the sun is a little lower to the horizon the cloud cover also acts as a natural diffuser. Patience and persistence are very important in landscape photography and something I need to practice more of.

If you are still with me at this point congratulations you have made it to the end of the post. Hopefully you can take something away from our adventure and use it in your own photography.

Until next time….

Ta-ra a bit.

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