My wife Joyce and I finally made it to Taylor Park, Colorado, late in the evening, after driving all afternoon in heavy rain. The sky was still densely overcast. The last thing I expected was a spectacular sunset. We were resigned to finding a campsite and settling down for the night.
At the same time, a voice inside me suggested I might want to hang around awhile. Besides that, the sky did seem a bit brighter in the west. So, just in case something were to happen, I set up my camera with the best view of the mountains, and waited. After all, what could I lose? Just before sunset, the clouds broke. For a few brief moments, a beam of light bathed the bottoms of the clouds in brilliant crimson and gold, while a deep blue sky peaked through here and there. I was able to get off several shots (this plus #9523 and #9525) quickly before all went dark. Had I not been set up ahead of time and waiting, I never could have gotten the shots -- with a view camera, that process takes what seems an eternity under quickly changing conditions like this. Sometimes, with a little luck and foresight, it all comes together!
The process of making this image was a bit unusual for me. Usually, the experience comes first. I'll be in a place and it "speaks" to me; something about being in that place, at that moment, overwhelms me. At that point, I get the camera out and attempt to capture something of that feeling on film. Often, by the time I can get everything set up, the light, clouds, wind, or other conditions have changed, and I have to settle for having had a wonderful experience -- but forget about capturing it in a photograph. That actually happens quite often. It's like fishing: a lot of "big ones" have gotten away. In this case, however, I anticipated (hoped?) that a worthwhile image might happen, and set up for it before I had any experience of it. The experience, when it happened, was real enough, but I got the shot only because I prepared for it in advance.