A few days ago one of my photo friends, The Meanderer, in response to my first recent post about the rainbow in Naves, France, aptly described the moment as “fleeting beauty.” I was immediately intrigued by this perceptive term, and resolved to add it as a new category, highlighting some of the photos I have made that required fast thinking and fast action before the brief window of opportunity had passed. In fact, I’d been planning to call it “Think Fast!” but this struck me as much more clever. Thank you, Meanderer! This is my first offering in the new series.
It was September 24, 1994, and I was on the job again, in Australia. I had just finished a long drive from Queensland up the eastern coast on my first (and, to date, only) visit to the Northern Territory. I arrived in Darwin just as the sun was rapidly sinking toward the horizon, wanting only to locate my motel, stow my bag, and find a hot meal and a cold beer. Just as I approached the sign for the city limits, I saw a field stretching off into the distance toward the setting sun, which at this point was only a couple of degrees and a couple of minutes from reaching the horizon. I grabbed my camera (no time for the tripod) and sprinted across the field to get close to a few sparse plants that I could see in silhouette at the edge of the cliff that dropped down to the sea. As the sun began to disappear, I dropped to my belly in the grass, took a deep breath to slow my breathing and my racing heart, and had time to squeeze off only two frames—one focused on the plants and another on the distant water and the sun’s reflection—before it sank from sight.
My camera was a Pentax PZ-1, my film Fuji Provia 100. I shot these at 1/90th of a second and f/5.6 (to minimize depth of focus) with my Pentax 100-300 zoom lens, at a focal length of 200 mm. BTW, I’m not asking for votes on which one you prefer. Each one stands alone, and I like both! Please click on a photo for a higher-resolution image.