Friday, January 23, 2009

Who's Been Painting The Horizon?

Sometimes A Simple Street Scene Can Be Arresting

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


This photo sequence was shot at Ocean Grove, on Victoria’s surf coast. It was about 8.30pm and I’d noticed cloud starting to build up, low on the horizon. That’s always a good sign, if you’re hoping for a decent series of sunset shots.

So I went outside with my camera, while trying to pretend that I really had no idea that dinner with the extended family was imminent. There was an interesting range of colours in the summer sky - yes, it is summer here in Australia.

There was a striking blue high in the sky, a range of medium pastels lower down and finally the promise of gold low down on the wide horizon. I shot these frames with my favourite 18-125mm lens, which gives a huge range of options.


I shot these from a street, hoping that the dog-walker coming towards me wouldn’t think I was photographing him. I just didn’t have time for explanations. I shot high, I shot wide, I shot horizontal, I shot vertical. I composed Big Sky shots to encompass the entire range of striking hues.

And then, as the gold and the dark clouds raked the lowest segment of the sky, I composed Flat Sky frames for best effect. No matter how striking a sunset is, you always need a bit of luck, an extra dimension that is sometimes accidental. Luckily, there was a street sign, a Give Way in the shape of an inverted triangle, slap-bang in the middle of my field of vision.

As the colours began to concentrate in one long band in the dying seconds of the day, that simple street sign became a silhouette on which to anchor the last streaks of light. For this last shot (below) I opted for nearby branches to anchor the scene, using the street sign in soft focus and slightly off-centre.


For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.

54 comments:

Daryl said...

Lovely color .. this morning my sky was striped blue and pink ...

Is the triangular thing a yield sign?

GreenJello said...

"So I went outside with my camera, while trying to pretend that I really had no idea that dinner with the extended family was imminent."

You gave me my first good laugh of the day with this line. Too true!

Neva said...

You are an azmazing photographer....love the sign in your photo....and sure....sunday Roast....anytime!

Hilary said...

Just beautiful. Who'da thunk that a street sign could be such an important factor in a sunset shot?

jinksy said...

Urban magic, and no mistake.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

ldont know what it is about yellow skies l love them..

Artist Unplugged said...

Simply beautiful...I love sky photos! I grab my camera and catch them all the time-take them while I drive with my cell phone. I know, that's a big no-no!

AirmanMom said...

david...thank you once again for sharing the world through your eyes and lens!

~AirmanMom returning to her blog...

Old Wom Tigley said...

Excellent examples David... and what beauties they turned out.

Tom
Tom's Sky Watch Pictures
&
Wiggers World

RuneE said...

The simple things in photography is a must - as it is in life in general.

Hilary said...

Wow, that yellow is really striking... Nice shots, David, just perfect.

Sarah said...

the sky always seems so breathtaking in your pictures...maybe I need to start getting up early enough to catch the sunrise...

Guy D said...

Simply beautiful shots, I especially love the second one.

Cheers!
Regina In Pictures

Dewdrop said...

Awesome color! So glad the clouds arrived in time for the show!

Gill - That British Woman said...

that's a sky to stop and make you think......"I wonder what's going to happen next"

Gill in Canada

Louise said...

The color! I incredible color.

Mary said...

"trying to pretend that dinner, etc." I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that. LOL Beautiful shots, especially the second one. Happy SWF. :)

Carver said...

These are fabulous shots and they do look like a painting.

Bee said...

That dramatic golden sky reminds me of the scene in Gone with the Wind where Scarlett is promising that "as God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

Your technical explanation is very interesting. (thanks!)

The Muse said...

For me...I would say the Master Painter, has been at work!

Love the shots!

Pearl Maple said...

Stunning colours in your photos this week, amazing the things one can see when we take the time to admire the beauty of the great outdoors.

Did the family understand why you had to delay dinner for the sake of colorful skies?

Photo Cache said...

You're lucky to get to see this show as it unfolds. I love your shots.

Tranquility said...

Amazing. I don't think I've ever seen a yellow sky like that. It's beautiful.

Sylvia K said...

Marvelous colors, such a great shot! Thanks, as always, David! Still having troubles with Mr. Linky and can't add my post. Glad I can find most peoples though. Have a great weekend!

Colin Campbell said...

Lovely colours David. Very appropriate for the Australia Day weekend.

Janie said...

Wow, the colors and clouds are amazing. I love the soft focus in the last one.

imac said...

HALT. Just a guess what that sign says, because it halted me in my tracks, beautiful David.

Maggie May said...

Absolutely breathtaking!

And the word verification was skyboo!

Sparkling Red said...

Gorgeous! Liquid gold.

The W.O.W. factor said...

I'm not a photographer by any means, so I truly enjoy your intrique and thoughts as you capture these amazing photos that you do!

Ida said...

A few seconds at the right time and in the right place is what it takes to make a wonderful series like this.
And a clever photographer. :)
Lovely orange sky.

Sarah S. said...

Great sky shots. It is usually being at the right place at the right time.

I am always pulling out my camera and I wonder what people are thinking I am doing :)

mountain.mama said...

Gorgeous colors, thanks for the comments on how you did it too. And also, most of my best shots have been accidental because most of the time I don't know what the hell I'm doing!

kden said...

Oh I'm jealous of your summer sky while we're in the States freezing ;-) Beautiful shots all around.

Wren said...

It was fun to go back and look at the different way the sign appeared in each photo.

I hope the family saved you some dinner.

Kathy said...

David the colors are beautiful. The yellow is one of the brightest I have seen in awhile. Great shots!

Deb said...

Hi ~ When I was was skimming through the pictures - before reading the words - I thought the sign was a flat topped tornado. Beautiful colors - good reason to be late for dinner!

Bradley Myers said...

Great photos the colors are fantastic. Thanks for your comment, I wish I always felt the same way about my photographs.

By the way after looking at your last post I see what the giggle about and think of.

Rottlady of the Ozarks said...

Ha! I skip dinner sometimes for the good sunset shots...Wonderful captures here, thanks!

Sandi McBride said...

And how did you find the inhabitants of Oz on this fine day,David? I trust the Wizard saw you safely home!
Sandi

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Rich, beautiful, vibrant colours David, wonderful captures! and with the colour of that sky and the silhouettes it reminds me of the film "Gone With The Wind" - tomorrow is just another day!

Cherie said...

I especially like the first shot. From the angle that I was looking at my screen, it wasn't immediately apparent that it was a street sign. Having it completely in silhouette made it even more striking.

Have a good weekend!

Tammie Lee said...

Oh David, what a sky! Good thing you shot from all angles. Lovely to see the sky down under and all golden. It is always interesting when someone walks into a scene....

Grammy said...

I love all the gold color. I have never seen this color in our sky.

Anne-Berit said...

Wonderful photos,and the colours are beautiful!

Rune said...

Beautiful colored sunirise :)

vincibene said...

Beautiful series with wonderful colors!

SandyCarlson said...

Thanks for these, David. I always feel like I'm standing right there when you describe your photos.

cheshire wife said...

Terrific photos! Looks like a storm is brewing.

Tricia said...

Mighty fine photos!

Poutalicious said...

At first I thought I was in Kansas (tornado) and I started looking for ToTo; then I read the piece and found out there was a dog-walker on the scene (classic). Perfect hues of yellow-gold.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

breath taking!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Phenomenal!

Sheila

Meredith Teagarden(The Things we Carried) said...

I appreciate the explanations of how you choose the perspective for a shot and show it from a few different ones.

I don't think our sky is ever so golden yellow here. It runs more in pinks and oranges.