Favorite Focus, March 2024

by Kevin Shank | Mar 6, 2024 | 0 comments

Yesterday afternoon at The Wilds was cold…bitterly cold. Although the thermometer showed several degrees warmer than yesterday, the stout wind made this day much more dangerous. I worked hard to keep my face covered, as I could tell frostbite was imminent if I didn’t. My day was not going as planned. They called for mostly clear skies, but the clouds came rolling in.

I pulled into the Jeffrey Birding Station, hoping to get a glimpse of my first Short-eared Owl, but there were none to be found. There was, however, a herd of bison grazing on a not-too-distant hillside, so I contented myself with photographing them. By the time I left there (only partially frozen) the sun was sinking low in the southwestern sky. As I drove to the high point of International Road, I could see glimpses of pleasing color at the horizon, which reminded me that I was in one of the best areas in all of Ohio for capturing amazing sunsets.

Because of the sun’s position at this time of year, I couldn’t see the sunset well from The Wilds, so I made my way westward on Rt. 340 to where I knew there was a clearer view. Before long, I rounded a bend, and the vast landscape slowly began to open up. As the sunset area came into view, my heart skipped a beat. Not only was it gorgeous, but there was a bright sun pillar right in the middle of it!

Sun pillars occur when light from the setting or rising sun reflects off ice crystals suspended in the air. The crystals occur in high-level clouds such as cirrostratus, or in frigid lower air. This was my very first opportunity to capture one!

I drove (a little faster than usual) till I came to a pull-off near the Straker Lake region where there were several ponds. I jumped out and quickly began firing with my Sigma 150-600 at 150mm. Normally, I would not shoot a sunset with that lens, but it’s what I had mounted, and I was afraid the pillar would disappear. The close-up images looked good to me on the LCD, so I left the lens on for the duration.

I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to capture the most amazing sunset I had ever seen…sometimes it’s a wonderful thing when things don’t go as planned!

sunset and sun pillar over frozen pond and snow
Photo © Steven Smith.
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse. Photo © John Leck.

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