Spring Break


First, a disclaimer: I did not plan on doing two back-to-back photos of very similar scenes at the OSU campus. When I wrote this post I didn’t even realize that last week’s post was taken at almost the exact same spot using the same camera, but facing a different direction. So if you’re tired of pictures of OSU with the sun in the background, just wait until next week when I’m sure there will be an entirely different image :)

The act of taking this photo was somewhat serendipitous, as I didn’t intend to take it at all but things just sort of worked out to allow it to happen. I was biking to work on March 22, one day after the start of Spring, and saw that the clouds in the eastern sky were lit up like a fireworks show because of the sunrise in the west. I thought it might be an interesting photo opportunity so I parked my bike on the west side of Boone Pickens Stadium, got out my X100F…and it was a total bust. The lens on that camera is so wide that in addition to the clouds the picture also contained construction equipment, street lights, cars, and a host of other distracting elements in the foreground that detracted from the majesty of the scene. Plus, it was kind of cold and I just wanted to get to the office.

I hopped back on my bike and continued across campus when I saw another sight that I thought would make for an interesting photo: some tree flowers budding in the early morning light. So once again I got off, pulled out my camera…and it just wasn’t happening. What seemed like a scene that would make an interesting picture in my mind just wasn’t all that compelling when I tried to capture a photo with my camera. Then, as I was about to finish riding to my building, I turned around, looked to the east, saw the sunrise over the new Spears School of Business building and about lost my mind.

As with most sunset images this one doesn’t do justice to the actual scene, but I did take a few lessons into account that I had learned from earlier attempts at photographing similar settings. I shot RAW, underexposed the scene to preserve the highlights, used a smaller aperture of f/5, shot at a low ISO of 200, and most importantly, I didn’t spend too much time putzing around with my camera because in a few seconds I knew the scene would disappear as the sun crept over the horizon.

I did tweak the image a bit in Lightroom (you pretty much have to when working with sunrise/sunset photos to make the most out of the dynamic range captured by the image sensor) and removed a couple distracting elements like the blue campus emergency lights and…well, you can see the original here if you want:

Does my editing ruin the integrity of the image? I don’t think so, and even if it does, it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make to get a picture like this. I hope you like looking at it as much as I liked taking it :)


  1. Your sky-earth exposure balance is perfect. I love this shot.

    • Thank you for saying that, Dwynn. I was really going back and forth when editing the RAW file on this, because I didn’t want the ground to look too light or too dark. I’m glad you like the final result!

  2. Dennis W says


    I like the perspective of down low to the ground looking out.

  3. The balance of the orange glow on the bricks makes this sunset even larger. Great balance of warm sunlight glow in the cool shadows. I’ve always heard that you should turn around and look at what is behind you.

    • “You should turn around and look at what is behind you” That’s good advice Rebecca. I bet I’d have a lot more photos in my portfolio if I did that more often :)

  4. Janet Richardson says

    ” because of the sunrise in the west” uhmmmm…….Stillwater is really different isn’t it? Down here is the southern part of the state we are still getting our sunrises in the east, (sighs) so boring. However, your editing is spot-on:)

    • Whoops! Thanks for catching that Janet! What I meant to say that the sunrise in the east was lighting up the clouds in the west and turning them rich hues of red and pink. Clearly I need to work on my proofreading!

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