Serendipity – make sure it’s in your corner

Late in the afternoon my wife exclaimed suddenly, “Look at the sun – it’s red!”  The weather had been moderately overcast all day so I was surprised the sun was even out but when I went to the window I saw the clouds breaking up in the west, and the sun hovering above the horizon like a bright orange-red helium balloon.  A great scene so I got my camera to see what I could capture.  Initially had too short a lens so I quickly changed to something longer and was able to isolate the sun and glowing clouds.

Yeah, I know, you’re not supposed to point your digital camera at the sun but the clouds were attenuating the light enough you can look with your bare eyes so I figured my sensor was OK, especially at the fast shutter speed I’d be using.

Then, as I was working on an exposure to get the sun and some cloud details, I saw this little streak of clouds growing across the face of the star.  It was a jet airliner, on its way westward, leaving a contrail behind.  There it was, the perfect juxtaposition of time and space, putting the airplane between me and the sun with the clouds at just the right density to show the brilliant globe while not so bright as to overwhelm the tiny stream of jet exhaust.  I quickly made several exposures as the plane made its transit, providing a tiny eclipse for a brief moment.

ISO 100, 400mm, 1/400 sec., f/8

Upon reflection, thinking how much planning would be required to actually set up such a shot (if it is possible), I remembered what a workshop instructor said about knowing it would be a great shot at just that moment and trembling as you hit the shutter.  And then realizing it was over, probably never to happen again.  But preserved to share.

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