GOD Paints the Sky

GOD Paints the Sky

PSALM 65:8b   “From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.”  NLT
Sunset
Fifteen minutes after sunset
Proverbs 3:6  “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”  NLT

February 9, 2018—There are days I know with certainty GOD directs my path.  Today was such a day.  It began at 3:30 a.m., a bit earlier than most days.  Having rested better than usual, I went ahead and got up, not thinking too much about it.  On my way to the kitchen to start the coffee, I turned on the radio. Uplifting music from KCBK 91.5 FM drove the silence out.  Within moments the smell of coffee would do the same…..the same what……hmm…….you know what I mean.  I’m headed for the thermostat, next.  Advancing it to what it normally would be at 4:00, it wouldn”t be long before it drove the chill out (a recovery…of sorts…ta da).

Cup of coffee in one hand, devotionals in the other, I settled into my easy chair to renew my spirit and begin the day.  There’s a bible on the book shelf next to me and a heating pad around my arthritic shoulders.  I am so-o-oh ready to renew my spirit!  My day doesn’t begin until I do.  I’m here as long as it takes.  Retirement sure makes it easier.

Psalm 23:2.  “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”  NLT

Half the day unfolded before me.  From prompt to prompt the time passed.

  1. Breakfast (check)
  2. Dishes (check)
  3. Therapeutic Exercises (check)
  4. Shower and get dressed for the day (check)
  5. Housework (check)
  6. Drive to Post Office downtown:  mail printer profiles to CA lab (check)
  7. (Big etc., etc., etc., inserted here)

It’s 1:30 p.m.  I watch “Mona Lisa Smile” with Julia Roberts.  First time.  I give it a thumbs up.  I like Julia Roberts.

3:30 p.m.  I’m thinking about the cold front that’s coming in sometime today.  Out of curiosity I checked Weather Underground on my phone.  It didn’t indicate much going on before 6:00 p.m.  If the front comes in early…maybe.  I go to an app called PhotoPills.  Using it, I learned the sun will set 6:12 p.m. on the horizon at 252°.  Hmm.  Curiosity leads me on.  I check the sun’s path across numerous already familiar places.  One at a time each is ruled out.  Eventually, I’m back checking things at the refuge.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I posit the point in the parking lot at Caddo Lake.   Yep, that’s it.

There’s plenty of time.  No need to hurry.  It won’t take but thirty-five minutes to be there.  Camera gear’s always packed and ready to grab-n-go.  FJ’s parked under the carport, nose toward the street.  FJ’s always ready to go.

Psalm 25:  4,5.  “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.”  NLT

When you live in the middle of Lawton, leaving the house at 4:30 p.m. and driving anywhere can be a mess.  Okay, I know Lawton’s not big compared to most other places, but crazy’s crazy wherever you find it.  Lawton’s got her fair share, if not more, of crazies and they run the streets, and the lights, in the afternoons.  I’m a morning person so I’m not usually out there amongst ’em.  The tempation to act stupid myself is sometimes strong (sigh), but I really don’t want to learn people’s names standing in the middle of intersections.

When GOD’s leads, I don’t think much about it.  I pull out in FJ and am on the way at 4:30.  No competition at the stop signs.  Gaps in traffic when needed.  I seem to be at the head of the line at traffic signals that turn green on time (lights on major streets are timed).  I’m smiling.  I’m out of town in no time scooting west along the highway toward Cache.  Just as happy as if I had good sense.

It’s 68° when I step out of FJ in the Caddo Lake parking lot.  I brought a down vest and light jacket.  There’s already a coat and toboggan in FJ.  It’s 68°.  I ignore prompts and put on the light jacket, fingerless gloves, grab the tripod, camera bag and begin to scout for the first best opportunity.  The lake surface is like glass and I’m excited.  I’m immediately giving thanks.  Big smile.  I head in the direction of prime viewpoints.  Great spot.  I’m thinking low perspective.  I set the camera bag down and spread the legs on the tripod without extending.  I reach in to get the camera when I feel the cold breath of that front.  I look up but can’t see anything that says it’s here.  Except for the wind.  The glass is gone, the surface becomes choppy.  Oh well.  Things happen.  I’m looking for the next best opportunity.  I think about the vest, the coat, and the toboggan.  I’m okay, I won’t be here but an hour.  Hmm.

I find a great spot.  Now, I want to shoot from elevation.  I back up the hill as far as I dare and then extend the tripod to it full height.  I decide on the 35mm f1.4.  I’ll shoot at f11, ISO 100.  The hfd will be 3.65m.  I add a polarizer filter to reduce the glare off the water.  I add a filter holder to that and slide in a 4 stop graduated neutral density filter.  This is to hold back the light of the brighter sky and allow more light for the foreground.  Also, this will slow the shutter speed down enough to somewhat smooth the choppiness of the water.  I use the hdr technique so I’ll take several exposures with each press of the shutter button on the remote.

Sometimes, it’s hard to explain how it feels when you’re a bystander watching GOD of the universe arrange the sky on your behalf.  I know.  This sunset was for everyone.  But I wonder how many other people were following gentle prompts all day long and arrive at this spot at this time.  You see, those heavy clouds you see in these images are only in that one spot.  The exact spot the sun set.  Just out of the lens’ field of view, to the left and the right, the sky is practically clear.

Initially, I thought the clouds would be too heavy to have color.  For some time it looked that way, but I wouldn’t accept it.  I overruled one prompt and now I was about to freeze.  I wasn’t leaving until that sun set.  Several minutes before that would happen, a longhorn bull in the Special Use Area north of the highway, began bellowing and making a big deal about something.  No concern:  sounded a long way off and big tall fence.  When the sun set at 6:12 p.m. there was only a slight hint of red.  I could tell the bull was a lot closer, now.  He was close enough I could hear his “low voice”.  I don’t like their low voice.  Too much testosterone flowing through his veins.  I got concerned because there’s a gap in the fence for the beasts to enter and exit as they wish.  I eased up to the top of the ridge so I could see.  I saw him already through the gap and moving in my direction swinging his head back and forth.  Such an attitude!  I was a hundred yards for FJ.  In true photographer fashion, I quickly returned to the tripod and took a few more shots before retreating behind and up into a dead juniper tree.  From there I continued to make images using the remote.  The sunset’s just getting better and better.  I’m praising Him on the inside and keeping an eye out for that bull.

I stay put and keep taking pictures until the colors begin to dull.  The bull never came over the ridge and I couldn’t hear him anymore.  I slipped out and up the ridge praying he wasn’t right there.  Reaching the top, I peered into the dark and could barely make out his shape as he went up the hillside at least another 100 yards past FJ.  For whatever reason, he veered off and never threatened.  I like to think an angel steered him away.  I’m glad ’cause I sure didn’t want to have to hurt him.  I packed up the gear and headed back in peace and full of joy.  Back at FJ it’s 45° without the chill factor.  I should have listened and taken the coat and toboggan.

I hope you enjoy the picture.  I sure did.

Carl Ray Evans

Fish, Friends, and Photography

SunsetSomeone told me years ago, “If you want to catch a lot of fish, you have to go fishing a lot.”  That’s true for the most part, unless you have friends that call to tell you when the fish are biting.  It’s also true for landscape photography.  It’s a good thing I have a few good friends.

The great landscape photographer, Galen Rowell, said, “There are only a certain number of sunrises and sunsets in a person’s life.  A good landscape photographer understands this.”  His words haunt me because there are too many I never see.  Now for real, not every sunrise or sunset contributes to the making of a good image.  Good ones don’t always happen just like fish aren’t always biting.  In truth, I miss too many of the good ones.  And my friends let me know when I do; “Oh, did you see the sunrise this morning?; Wow, I hope you got that sunset last night. It was fantastic!”  I love my friends!  They are few, but they are special!

Yesterday evening, I’m doing nothing in particular when one of these good friends calls me up.  The conversation begins like this:

“Hello”

“Well, I’m going to tell you right now, I can’t go.  I hate it, but I’m just not able to go.  I’m on my way to Elgin to meet family for supper.  But there are some clouds out here that look like they might make for a pretty good sunset.  You ought to go if you can.  If you get something good, send it to me.”

Well, what do you do?  Good friends hold you accountable.  I grabbed my bag, pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge and I’m out the door.  And, as it turned out it was pretty good and I had a great time just being out there.  Yes, the catch isn’t big enough for a company fish fry, but it’s big enough to keep.  I sent it to my friend earlier this morning.

Fish, Friends, and Photography?  I need all three, and sometimes, it takes all three.

Carl Ray

Best of the Day

Waylen Knapp - Photographer
Sunset at Sandy Sanders’ WMA

Recently a friend and I traveled to the Sandy Sanders’ Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in far western Oklahoma on a photo safari.  It was following an unusually wet spring, following several years of exceptional drought.  Besides being a fun outing to see how the water had risen in lakes and streams along the way, we were hoping for an explosion of wildflowers in bloom throughout the WMA.  We also had the goal of staying late at Sandy Sanders’ and photographing the sunset.

As it turned out, it wasn’t a successful trip for fine art photography but it was hugely successful for a lot of fun and fellowship.  Fine art photographers are by nature, and choice, loners, so when I can spend the day with a good friend and fellow photographer, it’s a day worth remembering.

We had a lot of fun in my FJ Cruiser driving through mud and water and over washed out roads throughout the deserted Sandy Sanders’ WMA and I learned some important things about using 4-wheel drive.  These lessons may come in handy in the future; at least I’m hoping they do.  We were the only sign of humanity all day long and the first to drive over some of the rough and rugged dirt roads since the last rain.  We had a great time exploring and searching for opportunities that didn’t seem to be forthcoming and by sundown we had to choose the best of the worst.  We never found what we were looking for, and that sometimes happens.  The photo I took of my friend, above, is perhaps the best the picture I took all day.  I know it will be the one I cherish and remember.