The Sun Sets on the Thirties

Watching the Last Sunset of My Thirties

Last night I finished editing my volleyball photos, grabbed a bite to eat, and started to head back to West Lafayette from Champaign. As I was leaving Huff Hall I noticed a storm was moving in. At the time it was obscuring the sun so I thought that we would not get a good sunset last night. As I was driving down 74 I noticed the sun was back, and making the cloud pink. I got off at the next exit and tried to find something to in the foreground. The large cloud was actually a storm cloud, and lightning would periodically move across the sky. I knew that this was something special so I wanted something interesting in the foreground. I was ready to give up when I saw this road. I thought that it was a perfect way to draw you into the sunset, and with the light fading it was my only hope for a photo. At first I had my car headlights off, but I turned them back on to throw a little light on the road. I think that it really added to the photo. What a great time it was driving down some country roads that I didn’t know with a little Metallica playing a little too loud looking for a subject for my photo. It is not the barn I had in mind, but at the end of the day this might be a better photo than the barn was. I like the idea of wondering what is down this road.

Taking On a New Decade

I want to preface this by saying that I am not a doomsday guy when it comes to age. When the clock struck midnight last night I was officially forty years old. Some people freak out about that, but I don’t. I didn’t feel any different this morning than I did yesterday morning. Actually I was pretty sore, but that was due to standing most of the day and according to my phone climbing 44 flights of stairs at Huff Hall yesterday. I don’t care how old you are that takes a toll on you with all the gear that I carry. I care more about the nice shiny round number of 40. It is something to look at for a couple of days, and then move on. I liked the idea of making one last photo in my thirties. At one point it was going to be a celebration photo of the Xavier volleyball team. This was a cool way to end one decade. It was even better as I have not made many landscape photos this year. I have really gotten away from that. It was great to be back out on a country road finding something that catches my eye. Alright enough about birthdays.

A Familiar Tool

As I was thinking about how to process this photo on the way home I knew that I would go a little old school on this photo. On the scene I made three exposures at +2, 0, and -2 thinking that I might use HDR to bring out some of what my eye saw on the scene. As I drove I thought about running the photos through Photomatix Pro. This is a program that every photo that I used to make went through. I would HDR pizza, dogs, and anything else that I saw. I used to be the king of bad HDR photography, and if you dig back far enough on this blog you can see some of those terrible photos. I have gotten a little better with my HDR by cheating the system a bit. I run the photos through Photomatix Pro to combine the three exposures. I then save the 32 bit file, and open it in Lightroom to use the sliders there to tweak the photo. I think that it is a much better way to make an HDR photo, and it looks much more realistic. I have been using Photomatix Pro for nearly five years now. I think at some point I will use it in some capacity for as long as it runs on my current computer.

One Last Thing

Some people are blessed to find their calling early in life. They go to college with that in mind. I was not so lucky. I found photography late in life. I was 37 years old when I started thinking about making a career in photography. I wish that I had come up with this plan back in college. Think of it. Drew Brees was the quarterback of the Purdue Boilermakers when I was attending school here. How cool would it be to learn photography while photographing Drew? I tell anyone who has even a little interest in photography that is currently a student to take advantage of every opportunity that you have a student in school. You have ways to get access to the things that you want to photograph through a few outlets now. I thought I was crazy switching careers so late in life, but then I read the following list of people who switched gears late in life. I am in no way comparing myself to any of these people. I am just saying that they all set a good example that it is never too late to do what you love. At 40 years old:

  • Samuel L. Jackson had not yet appeared in a movie
  • Lucille Ball had not yet made an episode of I Love Lucy
  • Julia Child was still working in advertising
  • Stan Lee had just published his first comic book
  • Henry Ford had not designed a car yet
  • Rodney Dangerfield was getting no respect for real
  • Bram Stoker was ten year away from publishing Dracula
  • George Eliot had not yet published a novel
  • Vera Wang was not yet a designer
  • Sam Walton was four years away from opening the first Wal-Mart
  • Betty White would not get her big break for eleven more years

Thankfully I found photography because I don’t know who would shop at Weg-Mart.


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