31.5.13

I shut my eyes and ran like hell!


I can count on one hand the amount of sunsets I've photographed. I've always thought that capturing them 'on film' doesn't do them justice so I've never bothered. This was, I think, the first exception to my rule.
For several years during the late nineties/early 'naughties' I was the photographer for the Australian Science Festival which was held annually in Canberra. This meant jaunting off to Canberra for a couple of weeks every year to photograph all manner of things 'science'...sunsets not included, though.
This photo came about late one afternoon when I was walking back to my car, which was parked in a large, open carpark in Civic (what Canberrans call the CBD), after a job. I could see the spectacular orange colour filling the sky and thought nothing of it. Like I said, I normally leave sunsets (and sunrises) alone.
However, when I turned a corner and saw the striking pointy shape of Telstra Tower, a large telecommunications tower on the summit of Black Mountain, silhouetted against the orange, my photographic juices started flowing. I knew I had to get a photo of the scene.
The only problem was that between myself and Black Mountain/Telstra Tower was power lines, several trees and a small, very low hill. I wanted a totally clear shot of the scene but all I had in front of me was mess.
I started to panic - I knew I didn't have much time to play with before it was going to be all over. I took a couple of photos in case it was all I was going to get but deep down inside I wasn't happy and knew I needed to do better - this meant having to get to the other side of the car park...somehow, anyhow!
The carpark surrouded the small, very low hill and my car, which I was now standing next to, was parked on the wrong side of the hill. I looked at the scene before me and I weighed up whether or not I could live without taking what I knew would be a spectacular photo. It was all there right in front of me but there was still all sorts of mess in the way.
I to-ed and fro-ed about what to do and, before I knew it, I had broken into a jog, making for the far side of the carpark. I kept looking up at the tower but every time I did there was still mess of some sort in the way. My jog soon escalated into a canter as I made my way across the carpark - mess, mess, mess the whole damned way!
All the while the colours got richer and richer and, as the sunset become more and more spectacular, I became more and more obsessed with getting the photo.
I began running blindly, my gaze fixed on the sunset. I was lucky I wasn't taken out by someone trying to park their car.
I finally made it to the far side of the car park where, lo and behold, one last powerline stood between me and an amazing photo.
The one thing I haven't mentioned so far is that running around the bottom of the hill is a 6-lane major road which, at that time of the afternoon, is very busy (even by Canberra standards). This was my one last hurdle between myself and great photo.
The area of hill/car park/road where I was isn't pedestrian friendly, so getting across the six lanes was going to be more of an act of stupidity than bravery. Still, the will brought on by creative juices is a powerful one and I had to get across it no matter what.
With the orange getting even more orange and the juices surging through me, there was finally a break in the traffic and I made my move i.e. I shut my eyes and ran like hell!
When I felt grass under my feet I opened my eyes to discover I was in a place where there was no mess between me and my photo. To say it looked spectacular was an understatement.
I raised the camera to my face and began firing. The sense of relief (achievement) was palpable and what you see here is the end result.

Gear used - Nikon D100, Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8, 800ISO, (I think) 1/250 f8

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