You have less than 2 minutes to capture a perfect sunset...don't screw it up!
Sometimes you see a gorgeous sunset, and it’s always slowly slipping away. This was the case for this image…and I almost missed it!
My wife and I recently vacationed in Maui. On this day we had just returned from visiting Pearl Harbor on O’ahu and were driving back from the airport. We were heading west along highway 30 and the sun was slowly going down. We were on the twisty turny section of road between Maalaea and Lahaina and there was not really a safe place to pull over.
We continued to watch the sun going down and I was getting a bit anxious because I wanted to pull over and grab a few shots before it left for the day. We had just come out of the twisting section of road, and just as the sun was almost touching the horizon a left turn lane presented itself…like it was saying here’s your chance take it or leave it!
Now for the record, being safe should always be paramount to getting a photo. I mean there is a sunset every night so it’s not worth causing an accident. However, judging by the way others were driving some just don’t care about safety…sigh!
So we pulled off (safely) and I scrambled out of the car, grabbed my camera from my bag in the back seat, and moved quickly to find a spot (by the way the sound silencers on the Think Tank Photo Retro 7 make it easy to get into your bag quickly). By this time the bottom of the sun had already started to drop below the horizon. Just to give you sense of timing my first shot was at 6:23:36 pm and my last shot after sun dropped below the horizon was 6:25:25 pm, so less than 2 minutes. This shot was taken right in the middle at 6:24:38 pm.
I was shooting with a Nikon D810 with the 28-300mm lens. I really didn’t check all of my settings because I was moving pretty quickly. But I do remember doing 3 things…on the run…AF switch on, check (it can get moved going in and out of the bag), VR on, check (shooting handheld with 300mm lens), and I also switched off bracketing mode that I was using earlier.
I began shooting and made a couple of exposure adjustments on the fly. But I totally forgot to check my ISO so it was still at 100. Aperture was at f6.3 and I had dropped the EV Comp by 1/3 of a stop. When all was said and done I realized that I got away with 1/400th shutter speed…whew! This shot was racked out at 300mm so having turned the VR on earlier was helpful for additional stabilization.
Sometimes you have to move quickly and make adjustments on the fly, and then hope that you made the critical choices. I was lucky that I got away with it…this time!