Little Big Weekends

I had a particularly great weekend. There was no big, splashy event, but just a lot of things worked out well. On Friday, I got some much-needed good news in my professional life. It's still very early and things may not pan out, but there's some movement there that might lead to good things.

That night I got to bed early and woke up on Saturday morning at 5:00AM. I got the pets and myself fed, keeping an eye on the weather while I watched TV. As I complained about last month, so far this year the weather here has predominantly been either completely clear skies or heavy overcast. And it looked like it was going to be the latter again. But I went outside about 6:10AM, went out into the street to get a good look at the horizon (all the trees around here obscure the view), and saw some pink color forming in the sky. So I ran back inside, turned off the TV, grabbed my gear, and headed to the closest good photo location I could think of – Bass Lake. Bass Lake is a park and trail built around a small impoundment lake about a mile from my house. I like to fish there a lot because it's well-maintained and I can go from having an urge to fish to casting a line in the water in less than 10 minutes.

I got there quickly, hiked around the visitor's center, and set up my tripod on the fishing pier, which gives a nice easterly view of the center. And this is what I got to enjoy for the next 10 minutes or so.

There's not much adjustment to these photos. Just a bit of tweaking to tonalities. The light was just gorgeous. 

But it didn't last long. As I said, about 10 minutes. This is why you have to work fast and be ready to rock when it comes to that transition from blue hour to golden hour. It happens really fast. Consider the following two photos:

They were taken only one minute apart.

And a few minutes after that second photo, the pink and purple was gone, replaced by the golden yellow of the sunlight:

That 20 minute period gets you a lot of different and wonderful looks you can capture as the light evolves. But it all depends on being ready and working fast, however.

Back to my awesome weekend, an hour later a big storm rolled in and we got a downpour that went on most of the day until the early evening.

Being my first really good sunrise shot of 2023, I was on a high all day from my short but successful photography session that morning. In the evening, my wife and I went out for our anniversary dinner. We made it a low-key affair. We went to a brewery/restaurant that one of our friends owns, called Clouds Brewing, which is awesomely apropos. I had the Hop Jam IPA and some nice fish tacos.

On Sunday, the weather had cleared back up and I smoked a brisket. For my barbecue career, I've always smoked briskets using timing and feel because that's the way I learned how to do it. But lately, I've been enjoying smoking bottom round roasts. Bottom round is very lean and not very tender. But it's also very flavorful and can make a very delicious smoke, if you don't overcook it and turn it into shoe leather. You have to nail the doneness and the only way to guarantee that is to put a thermometer probe in the meat and pull it when you reach a target temperature. So cooking these bottom rounds sold me on the value of thermometer probes, and for the first time, that's what I did with a brisket.

It turned out to be the best brisket I've ever made. It was perfect. Tender, juicy, but not falling apart – it had the ideal texture. Of course now I'm wondering why it took me so long to embrace the thermometer for brisket. But I can tell you that I'll be using one from now on, if I have a choice.