It’s seven o’clock in the evening and it’s still warm and humid. I had planned to go on a sunset shoot this evening, but it looks like that nothing is going to happen. But as the evening progresses, I get restless. Conditions are changing constantly and I know there’s a large amount of Sahara sand in the atmosphere, which could cause some spectacular colors at sunset. Eight o’clock, still at home. Nothing happens. Should I go or should I stay? Another look at the satellite images, but it’s hard to see what will happen. 8.15pm: up to the second floor to get a better look at what is happening at the horizon. Our bedroom window faces north and although our neighbors’ houses are blocking the view a bit, I can still get a good look at what is happening. Now I’m getting agitated. There’s a small opening to the northwest at the horizon and it looks like it’s just enough to let the light through. 8.30pm: time to decide, it’s now or never.
It’s a go. I grab my gear. There’s not much time. I get in car and drive north, to the Lauwersmeer National Park and The Wadden Sea. With the wind blowing from the south, chances are that when the sun sets, there’s just enough room left for the light to get through. It’s a half hour drive to get to the right location and as I’m getting closer, things are looking up. With only a few miles to go, the sky and the clouds are already showing some color. I need to step on it. A few minutes later I park my car, put on my Wellingtons. At this time, I realize how silly I must look, wearing a dark shirt, bright blue shorts and big green Wellingtons. I don’t care. I’m here now and running to get to the right spot. As I get to my spot, sweating and heavy breathing, I realize there’s a problem. It’s low tide and I need to get down a steep dyke. Normally no problem, but the retreating water has made it a slippery slope. I decide to set up my gear on top of the dyke before heading down. Now the sky is really starting to fire up. I need to hurry. With my tripod mounted camera in one hand I carefully start to make my way down on my hand(s) and feet, literally sliding down the last meter. I’ve made it. Nothing got broken, until now.
As I set up my tripod, a part of my left hand between my thumb and my index finger gets stuck between my tripod. As I fold out my tripod, it acts like a pincer, snapping right through my skin. Massive bleeding is the result. I asses the situation. No stitches are needed for now. It looks worse than it is, but man, does it bleed. I need a cloth. I have one. But wait, it’s in my camera bag at the top of the dyke..$%#^&. This isn’t funny anymore. To make things worse I also forgot to take out my cable release. Keep calm. There’s no way I’m going up that slippery slope again. Not without some decent images. I’ve already messed it up so far. I need to focus now. Take a deep breath and get to work. As the sun sets, nature puts on a spectacular show. As thunderclouds roll in from the south, the opening at the horizon is still there. Deep reds, pinks and yellows paint the sky, reflection of the water. Keep breathing, count to 10, and check focus. Luckily, I was smart enough to grab a ND9 graduated grey filter before heading down. I need it to keep back the sky and hold back the colors. Otherwise I would have completely over-saturated with these long exposures, even in-camera. My routine kicks in, making several exposures as the light changes. At 9.30pm colors are at its peak. What a sight. As colors retreat and I’m calming down, I realize I have to start thinking about how to get back up the dyke. With a camera and lens covered in blood, I eventually make it back up in once piece. It is definitely an evening to remember.
Bloodsky – The Wadden sea, The Netherlands – Canon EOS 5D Mark III + Canon TS-E 17mm f4 L at iso 100, f/13, 2 second exposure, Lee ND9 hard grad, tripod and no cable release…more images on http://www.basmeelker.nl
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