Winter Sunset on the Lake

Sunsets... The end of a day. A good day. A long day. A rough day. A trying day. Even a dull day. Something about the setting sun with its myriad of colors and hues in the sky places an exclamation point on the day. Done! Over! Kaput! or... Go! The start of night. Going home. Getting ready to go out on the town. The closing of a daily chapter and the opening of a new one. Will your night be better than your day? More exciting? More peaceful? The setting sun is that natural switch in our daily routine. The bright harshness of the afternoon sun slowly fades into the blue hour of twilight. Things are darker. More still. More mysterious. There's a subtle anticipation. What new adventure will the night bring? Time out with friends, sharing some laughs and drinks?  Dinner with family at home? For some, it's just the start of their shift at work. For others it's the start of the party. For many, it's just time to slow down and settle in. 

How many times have you said, or heard, "it was a beautiful sunset tonight?" How many times have you said it to yourself... wow, look at that sunset? Twice a day we get to see the amazing light of the sun when it is low to the horizon, or below it altogether... and seeing it in the morning, ugh, that's like, effort. That's starting the new chapter of the day when all we want to do is hit the snooze button. 

Lately I have found myself rushing to the lake for the sunsets. Harveys Lake is normally full of activity with the speed boats, jet skis, water skiers, and even folks on the quieter side of lake life, the fishermen, kayakers, paddlers in canoes. People enjoying the lake are out there in all sort of weather. Naturally, the sun of summer has the lake bustling with activity, but even the wet, drizzly, windy days will see activity. Trying to get shots of the lake when it isn't full of people can be challenging... but there are very few folks on it when it is 4 degrees with a windchill of -20.  I say very few, because there will always be the ice skaters and hockey players and ice fishermen who see this as a special time on the lake as well. A time when the lake becomes a very still, and very private place. It can easily be just you, your thoughts, the howling of the wind, and the setting sun. 

I headed out to capture the setting sun over from frozen lake a few times this Winter. The first was during Northeastern Pennsylvania's first real cold snap of the season. It was what most would consider to be brutally cold, the kind of cold where your eyes water instantly and everything just exposed to the wind just hurts, not like it's cold, but like it burns. The lake was frozen over aside from the bubblers kept running around the docks to prevent the ice from destroying them. At that point in the season, early January, we didn't yet have very much snow on the ground, or in this case, on the ice, and the high lake winds scoured much of it off anyway.
 
 

In this photo, the sun has obviously set behind the mountain, but its stunningly warm glow belies the cold and wind. Away from any docks, the ice serves as a foggy mirror of the sky's warm palette. On the opposite lakeshore, houses are still adorned with Christmas lights as they fall into the deepening shadows and soft blues of twilight.

I returned to this same area weeks later in late February. This time out, after seemingly countless snowstorms and the third coldest February on record, the ice was covered completely with a heavy blanket of snow. Snow doesn't have quite the same reflective properties of the ice of course, but it does an amazing job of picking up the deepening shades of the blue hour.

The Christmas lights are gone from the rooflines on the far lakeshore this time, and the snow almost glows blue. Standing on a dock protected by the bubblers, some open water provides a nice reflection of the sky. 

I shuffled back and forth on the dock, trudging through about a foot and half of snow trying to capture the shots that I wanted as the colors of sunset were fading quickly, and as I looked down at my tripod to make an adjustment, I noticed something shining in the water. At first glance I thought it was some trinket a swimmer lost in the summer, a bracelet or necklace, but whenI looked again the illusion of being under water faded and I realized the moon was high above. I quickly switched the camera's orientation to shoot vertically and captured this one last image to include the faint crescent moon before I made my way back to the car (and checked for frostbite).  Spring ins around the corner supposedly... forecast for tomorrow? More snow.

Thanks for stopping by,

Darren