CSS (Clear Sky Sunsets) are beautiful moments, but in truth they don’t offer a huge variety to play with if you are trying to take pictures of them.

They give a lovely banding around the horizon of peachy orange and their ascent to yellows or descent to reds is largely governed by the temperature of that moment.

Knowing all this and realizing that I was about to witness another CSS yesterday evening, I opted to use it not as a destination for my lens but as only a background and a source of light.

So, I came up with the idea, gathered my bits and pieces and headed off to the far shore of Lake Parker to catch its descent.

I brought with me my camera, a tiny foot-pod (like maybe one inch above the ground surface), a long old mirror that was on borrowed time from the trash-heap, my glass globe, a clip support from a USB drive, and a couple of bottles of water.

I am sure people must have wondered what is this weird old guy up was up to as I carried everything in the one trip out the pier to the very edge. But no one asked.

So, I lay the mirror on the ground and extended the end of it about a foot or two out over the water. Then on that end, I placed the USB clip as a support for the globe and rested the globe gently in place. All the time praying that it would hold and not fall off and roll into the lake.

But it didn’t (aaah the power of prayer lol) and then I poured some water onto the glass surface, to add a bit of character to the surface.

That was when I realized that the glass mirror bent slightly under its own weight and the water ran briskly off the surface and into the lake.

It wasn’t a complexity that I had planned for and it made each shot a furtive event, as each pour was quickly followed by a shutter-click before the water ran off the edge.

If I had planned for it, I would have brought a lot more than two little bottles with me.

It was all terrific fun and as the sun began to disappear, so did the water but I had managed to capture a number of half-decent shots that were very close to what I had initially imagined.

The nine images at the end of the blog reflect the progression as the yellows turned to orange and then disappeared. I hope you like them.

Anyway, as I was driving home, I was genuinely thrilled. Things rarely come out exactly as we plan and while the bend of mirror wasn’t something that I allowed for, I still got enough shots of what I had set out to do.

Conceptualization is a big word and I am not trying to be braggadocious (OK I was just there lol) in using it. But my kids always referred to me as a plan-man when growing up. Before we went anywhere, I typically had it all laid out as to what was expected to happen etc.

So, I find that before I do anything of substance, I try my best to develop a plan and then I work to it. The art of planning is very much anchored on being able to conceptualize whatever you are planning to do in a realistic way.

For example, if I plan on running to the edge of a cliff, the plan should finish with “and then I apply the brakes”, not “and then I flap my arms and take off”.

Realistic conceptualization is often based upon past experience and realization of limitations. This is where we use our past fails and successes to confirm what is or is not likely to be achievable.

There is a wonderful moment when we can realize success in our ability to conceptualize. It happens (like it did for me last night) when you finish your activity and realize it was exactly as you had expected or hoped for.

Such a moment is a character building moment and we move forward in life building on each success with the reinforcement of the last.

Not everyone is willing to conceptualize … these are the folk who go to visit a far off place for the first time and spend 10 days on a tour bus guided by some hapless dude with a microphone up front. They are told what to look at, what to notice, and when it is time for a pee break.

There are the folks who take a job straight out of school and forty five years later, they retire from the same job. They have no career plan and if they get promoted, it is only because the promotions there are based on longevity.

But all thinking people should want to approach life with a plan and a dream. Yes, be prepared to adjust the plan and alter your dreams, but never get on that bus. Don’t let someone else tell you what to dream and plan out your life until death.

We have but one life and it is ours, not theirs.

Yes, there will be moments when the USB clip fails to hold its weight and the globe rolls off the glass into the water. Or maybe the weight of your mirror will break rather than bend as you extend it outwards. Maybe folks will laugh at you for being a pack mule carrying all the bits and pieces in your overburdened arms. I mean, what kind of fool carries a full length mirror to the end of a 200 foot pier?

But so, what?

So what if you fail? You just figure out what caused the fail and try a different approach next time. That learning process is the cornerstone to our ability to plan our next adventure.

So what if the whole world laughs at you or thinks you’ve finally lost the plot? Your “plot” doesn’t need to be explained to anyone. If you want to chase windmills that is your business.

The key word in growing old is “growing” and we grow when we learn. We learn when we fail. We fail when our plan is flawed or we didn’t allow for a bending mirror.

But next time, we know. Long mirrors bend. Period.

… just a thought!