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Don’t ever let anyone tell you Iowa is not God’s country.
Living in Iowa has many advantages, but there are some disadvantages. One can be a distinct lack of foreground. I was on my way home from a 60 mile trip the other night and off to the west I could see the clouds starting to turn color. I knew that this was going to be one special sunset – the sort you only get at this time of year. there’s maybe a two week window for this sort of scene to even be possible, when the field work is at its apex and dust, pollen, and grain dust fill the sky. Even then, the clouds have to be just right at just the correct time of day, and many other atmospheric conditions have to be just so. As the scene was unfolding I knew it was going to be something I’d only seen a few times in my 50+ year life.
I also knew I was in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but cornfields from horizon to horizon, many of them already combined. I was desperate. No sunset, no matter how dramatic, is a photograph without a foreground – it’s just a pretty picture. OK, that’s my humble opinion, but you won’t convince me otherwise. Yet there was no foreground anywhere. I knew that within a matter of five minutes the scene would come and be gone, and there would be a window of maybe 30 seconds when the colors would be at their zenith. What do do?
Well one thing that is fairly predictable about rural Iowa is that there’s a crossroads about every mile. I took the first right I could, traveled a quarter of a mile, and found a tiny pine tree. I dove in front of it and began snapping. I made it just in time to properly meter the sky and I was able to get a couple of different basic compositions.
The foreground isn’t much, but without it it’s just a pretty picture. I like to think that with it, it’s something more.
It’s photographs like this that make me remember why I have a camera. It’s also pictures like this that remind me why I always – always – have my camera with me. You can’t get the shot if you don’t have the camera.