Tuesday, 10 May 2011


The more I have looked at sunsets, the more I have learnt to 'read them.' Each is unique in it's own way but still, something beautiful can come from even the most cloudy evening. As clouds drift across the sun, it might appear that the best of the day has gone but knowledge, patience and perseverence are worthy attributes to hold...

If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again.

Some spectacular sunsets I have missed because I wasn't in the right place at the right time. But now in my life, when I see and am able to photograph so many beautiful sunsets - does that imply that my luck has changed? My mum used to say "what's for you won't go past you" but, as with all these sayings there's a lot more to understand. To create one's 'own luck' needs a combination of many things and not the least of these is effort, the motivation to keep trying. That thought came to me today, as I looked back through my photos from last night (what hard work goes in to creating your own good luck).

A PHOTO ESSAY: Changing light, fishing and 'goodluck'

I like to catch the light as clouds turn pink - we need some 'clouds across the sun' to show up the colourful parts of the sky at its best. When a day clouds over, if the sun sinks below the cloud line, it shines back up and the clouds turn pink. Seeing the banks of cloud build up yesterday, I knew if I waited then 'luck might be on my side'. Finding an area of the shore that would give me a good composition I prepared to wait (and wait and wait and wait). I must have been there for over an hour but I enjoyed watching the birds flying around. I've always wanted to photograph a tern diving for fish but they're so fast. All I could do was line up the shot and try to photograph the moment I saw them turn and dive. Did I get the shot? No I didn't. I was disappointed as I thought I might have got it 'just above' the water  (but all I caught was the before, the splash and then after). It's too difficult I thought... But what if the tern missed a fish and decided, no, it's too difficult? The tern will repeat, repeat and keep repeating until it is 'lucky'. And somehow, then the three photos I took seemed to tell a bigger story - a story about life and that "what's for you won't go past you" - as long as you try, try and try again. Goodluck rarely visits by chance (a tern knows that).

The small shape of the tern, on the right against the cloud,
beginning it's dive for a fish (click to enlarge photo)
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved

SPLASH! The tern enters the water
- but I missed the point I was trying to capture
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved


The tern emerges successful with a fish
- and I will try to capture the photograph I seek another time
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved

After my wait on the shore, I hadn't managed to capture the tern (just inches above the water) but, I did learn from my experience. On the first look at my photos I thought "ah, it's too hard" but from a second look I see I am nearly there and with all things we want in life, when the knock backs come we just have to dust ourselves off, get back up and try again. So, did I get the "pink sunset" that I had gone their to capture? Yes, "I was lucky" but then again, I've taken more photos of sunsets than terns. It's all the sunsets I missed which have pushed me on to keep trying to improve. NO FILTERS, NO PHOTOSHOP, NO TRICKS, every single photo in my Blog has been captured by me through the colours of natural light, trial and error.

A pale pink sunset over the Firth of Forth
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved


  1. Shona,

    Nice photo work, as always.

    I love the pink sunset sky as well as the golden sunset sky!

    I really like your Mum's quote, "what's for you won't go past you." A lot of truth in that statement.

  2. I love the "thirds" in the first photo of Firth (top of the page). The Rule of Thirds is essential to good artistic composition. Loved those menancing clouds at the top of that pic, too!

  3. Thanks Joe, have heard of the various photography rules but only when someone pointed out I was applying them ;-D Haa, I was just doing what looked good to my eye but yes, composition is so important.