I have so many fond memories of watching sunsets on the west coast, and I always try to catch them whenever I can. There’s something magical about seeing the sun drop down and then disappear below a wall of waves – giving a final valedictory glow to the continent before darkness. When I visited Carmel-by-the-Sea last month, I knew I wanted to catch that same experience with a photo from the beach.
In 2012, I was working for uTest on a new mobile testing product they had acquired from a development shop in Warsaw, Poland. In September of that year, I took a trip to Poland with Roy Solomon, who was uTest’s VP of Product and one of the cofounders. This was the first time I had been to Poland, and I my trip was an incredible mixture of working with good people, eating delicious food, and seeing a city that is a little off the beaten path for most Americans. On our last day, Roy suggested we do two things: go get some of the best coffee in the world and see Warsaw’s historic Old Town.
Taking astrophotos can be a challenge – you need to be in the right place (dark skies) at the right time (little moonlight) with the right weather (no clouds) at the right time of year (the Milky Way is only visible in the warmer months of the Northern Hemisphere). Fortunately, all of this worked in my favor on my backpacking trip to Quartz Lake in August, letting me take a truly dream come true photo of Mars and the Milky Way together in the night sky. There was a reason I lugged all of my heavy camera gear up and over a mountain pass, and this was it.
Weather can sometimes be surprising, but few weather experiences have been more surprising than spending an entire trip in the warm Scottish sunshine. Now I’m sure Scotland gets some sun here and there, but this trip was sunny in a way that felt more Mediterranean. The sky in Inverness had that look that I associate with summers in America, where the air was bright, warm, and hazy. This often causes me trouble for photos because the haze tends to mute light and color, while at the same time there are usually very few interesting clouds to balance a scene. Fortunately, Inverness gave me something to work with during this sunset.
When I think about my many photos of Vermont, this one has long been one of my favorites. And like so many of my photos, this one has a story about combining timing, location knowledge, and weather. They all aligned to let me take this photo, and any one of them could have ruined it otherwise. Thankfully, the end result is a nearly perfect capture of Vermont as a place and a feeling.