Painting the Sky over Buffalo Main Light

September 29, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

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Lighthouse, Moondance Cat, and Fire in the Sky, Erie Basin Marina, Buffalo, NYLighthouse and Fire in the SkyBuffalo's Erie Basin Marina What a beautiful roller coaster this night was! First, I received an alert that the American Mariner lake freighter was in Buffalo and after a brief hesitation I was out of the door, tired or not. Anxious and full of expectations I drove north on Route 5 heading downtown. Passing by the City Ship Canal I kept checking by the General Mills where the ship usually brings grain for more Cheerios. It was not there. That could be both good and bad. It could be good because there still might be a chance catching the Mariner on Buffalo River by the lighthouse. It could be bad because my information might not be good. It would not be the first time.

I crossed the Skyway, made my double left and a right and parked near the entrance to the Erie Basin Marina. Since there was still not a trace of the big ship that's hard to miss my doubts mounted. I pulled out my phone, looked up the e-mail, and started understanding why. In the excitement of the moment, I did not notice I looked at the UTC time and strangely enough, the alert came delayed by just about the 4-hour difference between UTC and EDT. And it was not an arrival alert but a departure alert.

No ship, what now? My initial hope of catching the American Mariner by the lighthouse at sunset time had its advantages. While the ship was MIA the sunset still had a chance. So I grabbed my camera bag and tripod and headed for a familiar territory, photographed many times in the past, in different seasons, in different times of day, in different weather. It's quite a view, so why not?

Painted Lighthouse, Erie Basin Marina, Buffalo, NYPainted LighthouseErie Basin Marina


As the sun started approaching the horizon the clouds were spreading around and everything was promising a great show. I took a few pictures with the sun still above the horizon and tried  a few faster exposures as well as a few slow ones using my 6-stop ND filter. I repeated the routine every few minutes as the sun hit the water and then went under. The show kept getting better and better and there were others around enjoying the spectacle both with their eyes and cameras. Then, as the sun dipped below the horizon, everyone left. What is it about people? Impatience? Constantly being in a hurry? Why not hang around a little bit? For me, the actual sunsets are great but they barely mark the start of the show. Then, for about 15 minutes, nature picks its palette and a brush and starts coloring the clouds. The warm light and colors add up and eventually a wonderful piece of art is on display for just a few brief seconds. Than the painter fills a bucket with the lake water and splashes it over the sky. Colors gone, light gone, time to go to sleep.


Others might argue that even that is really just a prelude to what the upcoming night has to offer whether with a sky full of stars, planets or the moon. Night photography is increasingly accessible as the sensitivity of the digital sensors climbs higher while the resulting noise is more and more controlled.


Either way, why leave the second the sunset is over? Have they never stayed the extra 15 minutes to know better? One person even asked me whether I got any good photos and I told them the best was yet to come. Still, they left. So do me a favor and next time you're somewhere for a sunset, hang around for 10 - 20 minutes afterwards. Chances are you will not be disappointed. Sure, if it's way too cloudy or there are no clouds at all, the magic may not happen. In that case, just try again. Oh, and one more thing. As you're busy watching the spectacle in the west, turn around once in a while. Quite often, the more subtle glow in the east is the best part of the sunset.


Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you (#etbtsy)!


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