This won't be a long post. However, I hope it will be encouragement for photographers who make a plan only to have it fizzle out. My plan was really quite simple. Pick a place. Find a composition. Shoot the sunset.
On this particular night, I planned to go to Drake Park in Bend, Oregon. I had never been there before, so I got there about 90 minutes before sunset. I drove around the park, scouting out a location from the car. I had also done some Google Image searches to see what might be an option.
Unfortunately, there was some construction at the park and there wasn't much to work with at the end where most photos were taken. When I drove around the bottom end of the park, I noticed a vantage point that might work. I drove around and parked, making my way to a location near the car bridge. The river opened up there and I thought it might make a good vantage point.
I'll be honest with you. It was just okay. I took some shots and tried to get some color in the trees and reflections in the water. They're post worthy, but nothing super memorable. I packed up my tripod and moseyed back toward the car. I decided to walk along the water instead of the sidewalk because I enjoyed listening to the geese honking their brains out.
As I walked back, I looked to my left across the river and I noticed these three clouds on top of each other. It almost looked like a hamburger. Two buns with the meat in the middle. I thought, "Hmmm, those are interesting. I wonder if I can make something out of those." I pulled out my tripod again and then all of a sudden the clouds began to swirl together to form a giant cloud on top of the river and over the homes on the other side. A woman who was walking nearby came over to me and asked me what I was looking at. I showed her the cloud and she said, "Oh," and kept walking with her poodle. She was unimpressed. I felt differently and was amazed at the sky as it started to form something almost apocalyptic. I finally saw something worth shooting.
I'll share the full image at the end of this post, but my lesson (or reminder) of the day was this. "You don't know if you don't go." I'd been told that a million times in my broadcasting career, especially when chasing breaking news. I guess the same can be said for a sunset chase. So, no matter if it fizzles out or it's not what you expected, just keep your eyes open. You might just find a different story than the one you were looking for. The photo could be more magical than the one you imagined.