Persistence Pays Off

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The sun setting at the end of a tree-lined road in East Devon

For several years now I’ve had a pre-conceived image in my mind of this scene. It’s taken down a tree-lined lane in East Devon and I’ve always imagined a photo into the setting sun. It is a photo that will only work in late September or early October.  In March the trees are bare and, in my mind at least, will not work as well as a photo.

So, with the sun setting in the right place and a promising sunset in the offing, I set off for my destination – about 15 minutes drive away. My first problem was parking up. This is a single track lane and hogging a nearby passing place wouldn’t go down well. I eventually found a place in the entrance to a nearby field and set up shop. My next problem was that the sun had dropped behind a low bank of cloud and I’d lost my shot. Unperturbed I hung around and thought I’d try an exercise in composition. I was drawn to a wide angle lens, which was in itself plan B, but I felt that the closest trees made a nice frame to the receding scene.

The result is below and I’m really quite happy with it, particularly having converted to mono and applied a slight tint to it. But it wasn’t what I really wanted so I had to return …

Wide angle mono conversion of the scene
Wide angle mono conversion of the scene, with a slight tone applied.

Over the next week I kept an eye on the weather and returned a couple of times when it looked promising. However, neither of these produced anything better than my first visit. I would have to wait until next year. Or so I thought. Truth be told I had sort of lost enthusiasm for the place but, on returning home from work one evening the weather looked promising so I thought I’d give it one last go.

This time there was no low cloud bank. I set up again and used a longer lens. Composing was more difficult as the previous week’s wide angle scene had just offered itself up immediately. This time I wanted to compress the perspective while retaining a good compo, and I was finding it hard. Another problem with this location was the amount of traffic. Every time I had a composition I heard oncoming traffic. My pattern of working was set up, rattle off a few shots, duck out of the way of traffic and return. It all felt a little rushed and I was getting frustrated.

I got into position again and found a composition I liked. The sunlight was glowing at the end of the lane and I liked what I saw. Then I heard more wheels behind me and got frustrated again. Turning around I noticed a cyclist and he waved happily as he passed. My initial annoyance turnd to hope and I rattled off some more shots as he headed down the lane. I was worried that the exposure times would be too long and he’d be blurred, but this one works well for me. It is a slight crop to place the bottom of his wheel on a third in the vertical but I’m really quite happy with the result. I can now put this location to bed – at least until March when I can return and see if the bare-leaved version works as well.

Please click on the image for a larger version.

Cyclist riding along an East Devon lane into the setting sun
Cyclist riding along an East Devon lane into the setting sun

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