Not Your Normal Sundowner
I was in a hurry as I walked into the 2009 Australian International Air Show late on Friday evening, because I had a very long walk ahead of me and the late-evening light had suddenly turned murky as the clouds rolled in across the horizon and visibility began to close in.
In theory, I should have had about 75 minutes of pure light until sunset - but that rule applies only in a cloudless sky. Haze had developed and there was now a thick blanket of cloud on all points of the compass. To my disappointment, the sun was sinking rapidly into the greying haze, like a brilliant gold doubloon being submerged into an acid bath.
As soon as I had passed through the turnstiles, I got my camera out of my bag and shot the first frame (above). It was an interesting sky, with distinct layers across the horizon, each with a different saturation of colour.
I still had a long way to go to the area where the larger jets and the warbirds were parked and I knew the sun would have vanished by the time I got there, leaving only the last vestiges of weak, diffused light before darkness.
I knew that I would not get a single shot of an aircraft with the setting sun in the background. Accordingly, I doubled back a couple of hundred metres to where the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter was parked, to utilise the light conditions before they deteriorated any further.
The fighter has an interesting story behind it, because it was the product of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme across several partner countries. It is also called the Lightning in honour of the World War II-era fighter, the P-38 Lightning. I also seem to recall that one of the names under discussion was the Spitfire II, after the famous British fighter created by Reginald Mitchell.
I was able to stand on tiptoe to shoot above the heads of other patrons and because I was using my long lens (a 70-300mm Sigma) I was able to compose a very tight frame with the cockpit canopy and the setting sun in perfect alignment.
It's always great to have a flash of Lightning at sunset.
For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.