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After getting literally washed out on my attempt at a waterfall shot, My family and I enjoyed a great dinner with my brothers family at his home in American Fork. Fortunately my brother lives very close to the Mt. Timpanogos Temple, and as we ate dinner I kept on eye on the sky. Why you ask? Because I noticed something happening to the remnants of the thunderstorm we had just endured, specifically that the clouds were breaking up, especially towards the western horizon.
I don’t think I would have been so keenly aware of the approaching sunset and light if not for two very big factors. 1st – I’d been skunked earlier in my photographic plans. 2nd – I was inspired by an image of the Mt Timpanogos Temple that had been shared a week or so prior by the amazing Utah Photographer Jeremy Hall, who also happens to live in the same general area as my brother (give or take a dozen miles) After seeing his image the week before, a nugget of an idea to get a similar shot had lodged itself into my wee brain. As I sat munching on a very tasty Brat I resolved to run up the hill to the Temple and see just what might happen.
I grabbed my wife, and we left the kids behind to play with their cousins. After parking at the north lot we walked to the front of the Temple and set up across the street on the east side. I set up the D7000 on my Benro Tripod looking west directly at the front of the temple.
As you can see the light wasn’t very spectacular, the clouds were gray, and a little flat and because the Temple was backlit, so the dynamic range was too large to make a single exposure look decent. I decided to shoot HDR to grab the entire dynamic range, I also noticed that the spot of gold near the sun was opening up and I needed to be patient. I plugged in the Promote Control and waited.
I took this close up of the Angel Moroni statue on top of the temple while I waited for the light. (I grunged it up a little in Photomatix)
Here you can see that after only 10 minutes the color is starting to spread out behind the temple and you can see some structure in the clouds as the sun goes down. If all goes well those clouds should light up really well…
Look at the difference that 5 minutes makes! The color is really starting to develop and deepen, and what first looked like featureless gray clouds have really started to show texture and depth. I was getting excited, add 3 more minutes and we get this!
This was the shot I had envisioned while sitting at my brothers home. I was pretty sure that if the clouds cleared from the horizon long enough this type of sunset would occur so I clicked away, (being a newbie means I over shoot) it was funny because right around this time a few cars pulled over and you could see people sticking their phones out the windows to take the shot I wonder if they would’ve done so if I hadn’t been set up taking pictures? (bet they don’t look quite like this one though)
I moved to the south to get a 3/4 view.
I’m thinking of entering this image into a contest. My only regret is that the street starts to dip on the south side instead of getting higher, what I would’ve given for a cherry picker to get a higher vantage, then I could’ve included some great mountains in the background as well.
We crossed the street again and from right along the fence on the south side I took these images.
I decided as it got darker to go back to the front of the temple and I grabbed a few more shots from the corner again.
So that’s it, my last shot of the night was at 8:58pm. So all in all I shot for 39 minutes of fast and furious shooting with a tripod and a Promote Control hanging off of it, I couldn’t have done it as quickly if not for the help of my wonderful wife. (I’ll be making a holder for the Promote Control because letting it hang from its cables is no good) I was glad that I “saw” the light evolving earlier, and that I took the initiative to go find the shot I wanted. My work schedule prohibits me from shooting the “Golden Hours” very much, so it’s always a treat to be able to play in its beautiful light.
Here are two of the mid or “0″ exposures showing why I went with HDR – the dynamic range was really too much. You can see the blown highlights, blocked up shadows, and washed out colors in both images.
PS: I wanted to share this blog post I read Monday that parallels my experience, and has more validity to the concept of waiting for the light than my own.