This past Tuesday evening I noticed that there were a lot of clouds forming above the mountains surrounding Cache Valley. Recent evenings had been hot and pretty much cloudless. Clouds of course are one of features that play a big part in most great landscape photographs. Since my trip up the Cub River and exploring Sugar Creek Road a week earlier had been in late morning with almost no clouds in the sky, this particular evening seemed an opportune time to return and try to take some cloud-filled landscape photographs of that awesome location.
It takes about an hour to get from Hyde Park, Utah to Upper Sugar Creek Road in Idaho. Driving up the road I started looking for some good landscape views. I noticed the sky in the southeast had wonderful cloud formations that had built up over the mountains. This is where I first pointed my camera. If the plants and bushes in the foreground of this image appear chaotic and disordered it's what attracted me to this scene in the first place. I seem to have an affinity for scenery that's in wild disarray. It's part of the untamed feelings I love to convey in my photographs of Cache Valley's rural landscapes and our surrounding mountains.
Taken on Upper East Sugar Creek Road, Idaho looking southeast.
Driving on and looking west where the sun would set I noticed that the clouds in that direction were high above the mountains and very wispy. They were not the kind of clouds that make for breath-taking sunset photographs that everyone oohh's and aahh's over. Still the early evening light was warming not only the sky but also the farm fields on the hills to the south. I stopped and photographed the deep blue sky and glowing fields.
Taken on Upper East Sugar Creek Road, Idaho looking south.
Afterwards, it was still almost an hour until sunset so I drove up and down (literally) Upper Sugar Creek Road looking for a good vantage point to photograph the setting sun. I finally stopped at a bend in the road were I would be able to see the sun as it set between two mountain peaks. Getting out of my SUV I climbed up a raised mound above the road to a spot where I could set up my camera with an unobstructed view of the sun going down. After two back surgeries and a hip replacement I'm none to sure on my feet when I climb. Being clumsy and uncertain in my footing it's bit scary to walk up even a small rise but I just had to get to a place above the road to get some good pictures. Besides I've found that my tripod makes a good walking stick/cane and using it I managed to safely reach a perfect spot.
Looking due west now from where I set up my tripod I could see across the farm fields below me to a distant mountain that was shimmering a soft amber in the evening light.
Taken on Upper East Sugar Creek Road, Idaho looking west in the late afternoon light.
As the sun finally began to set to the northwest from where I was located I noticed that the small aperture I was using on my camera lens created a star-burst effect. As the sun went down I took a whole batch of pictures and this was the one I liked best. The clouds to the west remained soft and flat rather then big and billowy but I stilled loved the way the rays of the sun turned those thin clouds to a brilliant yellow-gold in color.
Taken on Upper East Sugar Creek Road, Idaho looking northwest at sunset.
One thing I hope everyone knows about taking sunset photographs is that the best light and color actually comes during the twenty or so minutes after the sun sets. So don't go home, keep watching. The period of time before the sun sets is called “the golden hour” by photographers and the period of time after the sun sets is called “the blue hour.” And this evening the sky was turning a beautiful blue and purple and yellow after the sun had set.
Taken on Upper East Sugar Creek Road, Idaho looking northwest into the sunset.
As the sky became even darker it next turned a brilliant red color.
Taken along Upper East Sugar Creek Road, Idaho just after sunset.
[Photo tip: if you significantly underexpose your pictures right after sunset you can deepen the color you capture in the sky and your pictures become much more dramatic. Just look at the meter reading your camera is giving you and set your exposure compensation dial into the negative numbers.]
Still photographing more than 30 minutes after the sun had gone down the sky rapidly darkened until it became a deep almost shiny bronze color in the last photographs I took.
Taken on Upper East Sugar Creek Road, Idaho looking into the setting sun.
I hope these photographs will motivate everyone to get out more often during and after sunset to see the amazing breath-taking views we are privileged to have in this part of the country. As for me, I had a wonderful evening watching and photographing the setting sun in Southeastern Idaho.