The below image is a good example of how the sun can peek through a narrow opening. Sometimes clouds have a well defined edge. The below is from a Sunrise at Bombay Hook Refuge in Delaware. At the time I took it I realized that the amazing light was only going to last for the brief period of time while the light painted the underside of the clouds and the land.
Another time this setup played out was at Portland Head Light in Maine. The good light and photo oppertunities all took place pre-sunrise. The light was sneaking over the horizon and hitting the underside of the morning clouds. This day by the time the sun had actually risen, it was over. Once the clouds got in the way there was nothing special to see or photograph.
With those two days as the setup...
The last two night here in Maryland we had cloudy and rainy forecasts. I went to Great Falls Monday evening, and nothing special materialized. I was hoping for some breaks in the clouds, some magical light. My visit lasted an hour or so, and I took maybe a hundred or two images. It was a decent trip, but no photo gold that night.
Then Tuesday morning as I left for work I already knew the evening weather forecast was for 60% chance of rain. In the morning the skies looked pretty mixed, and rethought if I wanted to visit Great Falls, and still decided not to. By late afternoon however I saw that the cloud cover had a pretty well defined edge on the west side. The potential for the sun lighting the clouds from underneath during the sunset existed. So I left work, got my camera, and went to Great Falls. During this visit it rained a little and was just pure gray. There was absolutely nothing special to see. And I couldn't see any cloud-edge from the river's edge.
Then from the DC beltway, about 10 minutes later - at sunset, it HAPPENED! The sun peeked through, and there was about 2 or 3 minutes of MAGIC LIGHT!
I'm not sure what the lesson is, because it was my flexible nature that made me change my plans not to go in to plans to go. And then based on observations of the current conditions I gave up. Exactly what I hoped would happen did, but I out thought it and I left. Fail. Lol. I guess the lesson I will hope to learn is that when planning sunset shooting, I will be sure to stay until the actual time of sunset, because it can be hard to judge that final few minutes.
What bugs me is that the two examples above, the photos, are the precise same thing except during sunrise. They were both awesome, and lasted just a few minutes. Had I driven a hundred miles to shoot sunset (or sunrise) I would not have given up so easily. For me Great Falls is about a half hour drive.
Here's a nice sunset from the VA side that was taken a couple years ago.
Nikographer.com / Jon
Wednesday, March 31, 2010