How 30 Minutes of Freedom to Shoot a Sunset Went Hysterically Wrong

How 30 Minutes of Freedom to Shoot a Sunset Went Hysterically Wrong

Last Friday was one for the record books. My son had his last travel soccer game for the team I assistant coach for at Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. The team played great and since it was our final game, we invited all the parents out on the field for a game against the kids after. Everyone there had a blast. As we began to run out of daylight I could see one heck of a sunset coming together. We actually had some of our gear with us since my wife wanted to grab a team photo. Knowing I have been itching to get out and shoot, she immediately told me to take her camera and go. Next time she may think twice.

Fort Niagara is an absolutely beautiful park. It's located in Youngstown, New York right where the Lower Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario. There are 20 soccer fields, a pool, a sledding hill, and a very historic Fort. We have been going there since we were kids. I can honestly say it is one of my favorite places. I even asked my wife out on a date for the first time on a pier there. 

The soccer field we played at was only a few thousand feet from the waterfront where I wanted to get some photos from. As soon as I had the green light to go shoot the race against the daylight was on. I get very excited and nervous with anticipation when I shoot. Especially sunrises and sunsets because they are upon you and then gone so fast.

My wife had her car with her, the four-year-old, and our oldest had already gone with a teammate for ice cream. This meant I literally had no worries. Or so I thought. What could go wrong?

Sometimes the colors in the sky make capturing good shots easy.

I spent the next half an hour completely relaxed and super psyched to be shooting such a beautiful sunset. I had the beach to myself, and both our Canon 24-70 2.8  and the Canon 70-200 2.8 lenses to play with. Long exposures make the experience even more peaceful by forcing you to wait for your shots to be created. This gives me a rare opportunity to simply take some deep breaths, slow my mind down, and take in the world a bit.

At one point I thought, "Hey, I should take a behind the scenes shot with my cell phone." This was the first moment I noticed my phone wasn't on me. If you've ever worn soccer shorts you know the pockets aren't exactly deep if they even have any. This mixed with my heavy and quite oversized Moto Z Force means it often ends up on the car floor between the seats. Oh well, I thought, even better.

Wood on the shore is always great for long exposures.

Since I had recently lost my tripod to a hectic wedding day, I was using my wife's Vanguard Carbon Fiber Tripod. Since I hadn't planned ahead, I was also short a remote shutter release and a neutral density filter, both of which I often like to use. That really isn't a big deal because after the sun goes down, the low light when your ISO set at 100, will push your aperture priority out to 30 seconds. When done right this can create some great long exposures.

At the end when I finally had my fill, I slowly headed back to the car feeling fulfilled and refreshed. Once in the car, I figured I should check for my phone. I couldn't immediately find it, but then it started ringing. I answered with, "Perfect timing, I was just looking for this..." only to find out I had about 22 missed calls and four or five text messages increasing in urgency each time. This was the opposite of good. And very, very far from perfect timing!

Toronto as seen from Youngstown, NY

Apparently the camera bag I so quickly grabbed and took off with, contained the ever important car keys my wife needed. This coupled the exhausted little guy and the extremely dark park at night made the situation a bit stressful. Especially as time went on and I was nowhere to be found.

So basically my complete and total get away was very ill timed in the end. All the relaxing and soul rejuvenation I was experienced was only contrasted by my poor wife's misfortune. It was such a sudden shift of perspective on the time spent that I could only laugh at it. Thankfully she felt the same.

The last boat in.

Luckily I didn't just jump in my car and head home. When I found it my phone, it was at a barely there two percent battery. If I had done left like that, I probably wouldn't be here to tell the story. I have learned my lesson. If you are going off to shoot a sunset, make sure you don't take your wife's keys. And if you do by mistake, be sure to have your damn cell phone on you! 

So what do you think, were the pictures worth it? Have you ever ended up in a jam while on a shoot due to leaving your cell phone behind? At least I'll be on the lookout for this in the future, and maybe you will too.

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Brandon Mount's picture

The pics are great. 📷📷📷📷

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Thanks so much Brandon!

Mike Gillin's picture

Great shots, and a great story. Those stolen moments Qalwaysseem to come with some price.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Thanks very much Mike!

John Zocco's picture

Best studio name ever.

Jason Lorette's picture

Definitely worth it, cool perspective of Toronto for sure. I'm not sure that would ever happen to me I have a serious case of "where is my phone" anxiety, lol. (never say never though)

Stunning photos.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Thanks very much Ralph!


Writing and photos are very nice.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Much appreciated Ramazan!

Tom Moroz's picture

The view of Toronto is great.. almost like a 16-bit representation.. .