Reclaimer of wood and photographer of things, Ben Wurst hosted friends for textbook late summer chilling and grilling this weekend. Naturally, festivities were preceded by an hour long sunset shoot at a location that was for the rest of us in attendance, a brand new spot! We found ourselves tucked away under the Garden State Parkway in Port Republic, NJ, set alongside the southern shore of the Mullica River. Offering both east and west exposures this is a versatile spot that will no doubt take its place in the rotation.
We were originally onsite so Ben could catch the full moonrise with his 400mm. Too bad it was obvious immediately that wasn’t going to happen; marine layer clouds were draped over the eastern horizon throwing a dripping wet blanket on those plans. The western side wasn’t much better with low level clouds riding the southerly flow. At this point I was milling about chatting with friends while Jackie remained steadfast to the photo plans, dutifully making shots. It was a good time, weather was perfect.
A few minutes before sundown, what you could see of a mostly cloud obscured sun disk was swallowed by the marine layer haze. With that it was looking more and more likely that a cloud out was inevitable. Driving the impatience further were some feisty appetites and a nice spread waiting back at the reclaimed home base. The natives were restless. Stalling twice for just three more minutes, I began to question whether my efforts were in vain. About 60 seconds from bailing I noticed an oh-so-subtle back build of pastel color brewing toward the east, over the Parkway span. Jackie! I said, we’re golden. And by golden I meant pink.
The best sunsets always straddle the fine line of oh yeah or oh no. It’s a razor’s edge of hope that there’s just enough gap underneath the clouds along the horizon to give the last photons of the day a chance to get an angle and deflect off the clouds. That’s just what happened Saturday: a near colorless sunset that ignited a good 5-10 minutes after actual sundown, only to smolder for another 15-20 minutes after that. On this day, our position in space and the physical laws of nature were on our side. Oh, and some luck too.
Update: unbeknownst to me, Ben captured me in the wild setting up for this shot with his 135mm. Good stuff, Ben. I didn’t even see it coming.