I was looking at the calendar this week and realized that today is both the winter solstice and a full moon. I started to think how I could make an image that would capture the idea of the shortest day (or longest night if you prefer) of the year.
I was out early this morning with the moon hanging in the clear western sky, it was still quite dark at 5:30am and I went to a spot where I knew I could get an image looking down river toward the setting moon. I got to the spot only to find that area closed by construction and by the time I found another spot with a similar view it was far to late to try a big camera image.
I thought about the possibility of a mid-day image looking up at the cloudless sky, but as the day went on clouds blew in, the temps dropped, and I still did not have it.
Finally, thick clouds were moving fast as evening approached and I hoped I might get lucky enough to catch some color at sunset. I set up along the river in a cold biting wind and waited. The sky was dark. The cold wind was blowing. The clouds raced by. Then suddenly there was just a hint of color in a small spot in the west, a touch of red in an otherwise dark brooding sky. These were perfect conditions for an image.
I wanted a lot of sky to show the thick heavy overcast clouds. I framed the camera to put the small patch of red in the corner of the image and just a small strip of ground at the bottom. This image was all about the clouds, the wind, and the hint of a sunset. I wanted a long exposure so the clouds were a blur across the sky and stopped down the lens. I composed, focused, set the time and was ready. I had it. This was the way to make an image for what this day was.
The day and the conditions all came together at the right moment to end the day with an image.
Then the light faded and the shortest day came to an end. The longest night was starting. It was cold. It was windy. It was now winter.