On my commute home each evening, I pass Buckmaster Pond. The road parallels the east shore of this small pond, which means that most times of the year, the sun sets on the opposite shore. And these sunsets have been fantastic. It’s not uncommon for me to be in mid-tele conversation with someone and to suddenly shout “”I’ll call you back!”, when I happen upon another perfect sunset. I’ve learned that I need to be a bit more considerate of the caller however, especially when due to my excitement, I’ve lead them to believe I’ve just driven off the road and into the pond itself! Sorry Mom and Dad.
A Sunset on Buckmaster Pond, Westwood, MA
On this particular day last year, conditions were just right, the sun was glorious, there was a hint of clouds in the sky, and my timing was perfect. It was serendipity.
I stood behind and watched this fisherman and his friends on the shore for a while, trying different compositions in my viewfinder: portrait and landscape, zooming in and out (with my feet), and learning the pattern of his casts. I was actually a bit annoyed that he cast in what seemed to me to an awkward manner: holding the rod and reel over his head, but horizontally, not in a more traditional (to me) vertical position. For heaven’s sake, hadn’t he ever watched the Outdoor Channel? When it became clear that that rod was going to stay horizontal, plus given the ever-setting sun, I decided to make do, and started shooting.
The Lucky Fisherman
Employing the rule of thirds, I positioned the fisherman in the lower left corner and the far horizon/sun about a third of the way down in the scene. My Nikon D90 with a 35mm prime lens was set to aperture priority, f/7.1, 1/1250 sec. I boosted contrast to silhouette the subject, and saturation to bring up the colors in Corel PSP when I got home.
So here’s the interesting thing – in retrospect, his unusual casts actually helped the image. Had he held the rod vertically, as I had tried to will telepathically, the top of the rod would have been lost against the darkness of the far shore. In this position, it roughly parallels the horizontals of the shore. I think it works well. In fact, this is one of my most popular photos on my website, garnering thousands of visits and many supportive comments, for which I’m very grateful.
So I guess the moral of the story is this – trust your instincts when you think “there’s a picture in there”, as I like to say. Do your best to compose and consider settings, conditions, technical and aesthetic aspects. But don’t be discouraged – sometimes you do get lucky. – Posted by Ed