Seeing the Light in Canada / Part II

Sunset from our balcony at the Wickaninnish.

Sunset from our balcony at the Wickaninnish.

In Part I, I discussed chasing the light, and what can happen sometimes when you catch it. Sometimes it’s not so great because the subject matter doesn’t measure up.

Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you’re OK, even when you’re in the wrong place at the right time. Or vice versa.

Florangela and I had a wonderful dinner at The Pointe restaurant in the Wickaninnish Inn and had lingered over dessert and the superb views. When we got back to our (stunning) room, the most magnificent sunset of our stay was taking place. Instead of racing down to the beach, I set up on our balcony and caught the sunset after-party. The result (see lead photo) wasn’t great, but it was OK — more satisfying than Radar Hill, for which I had much bigger expectations.

(NOTE: Photos are not full versions; click to open a larger image in a separate browser window).

Aforementioned stunner of a room at The Wick.

Aforementioned stunner of a room at The Wick.

The hit-and-miss nature of sunrise and sunset does not even approach the uncertainty of the light in between. It can be harsh and unforgiving, and your subject matter has to carry the day.

The roiling surf off the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, B.C.

The roiling surf off the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, B.C.

A Black Bear foraging for crabs on Meares Island.

A Black Bear foraging for crabs on Meares Island.

Harbor Seals show off their camo ability to throw off predators.

Harbor Seals show off their camo ability to throw off predators.

None of the preceding three were taken in very flattering light. But I think the subject matter was interesting enough to make people look. You looked right?

The opposite also can be said to be true. That is, a decent subject can look rather nice in early or late light.

A Black Oystercatcher feeds off muscle-festooned rocks at low tide.

A Black Oystercatcher feeds off muscle-festooned rocks at low tide.

Florangela, as the morning sun hits her on Chesterman Beach.

Florangela, as the morning sun hits her on Chesterman Beach.

What did I learn after so many sessions (at least 10) at sunrise and sunset during a confined period?

For one thing, remember my earlier praise of clouds? With clouds often comes moisture; the same with beaches and the ocean. That means wiping the drops off your lenses, something I didn’t pay even mind to, and paid the price during processing.

The main lesson was being familiar with subject matter, thus going into a shoot with a game plan. Also that “sunrise” and “sunset” aren’t simply moments in time that you’re looking to capture. They are light shows, which begin before the sun appears or disappears and continues after the peak event.

So the last night we were in Tofino, Florangela and I had a picnic on Chesterman Beach, where I’d had most of my success during the week. We started far in front of sunset and stayed well after. Light being dynamic was playing differently every time I released the shutter. When you have choices, the tougher the better, that’s when you know you’ve had a good shot. I made the second picture in this post during that sunset. But the following just as easily could have been what I considered the product of that shoot.

The setting sun during our final night on Chesterman Beach.

The setting sun during our final night on Chesterman Beach.

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