When the sunset begins I call it a whisper sunset. You just see a pale blush of sun if you look to the east or at least away from the sun.
At Buffalo Point for the New Year’s weekend I found employment of a sort. Henry David Thoreau, one of my heroes, claimed to be an inspector of snow storms when he lived at Walden Pond. That never appealed to me much but being an inspector of sunsets that was more like it.
So, I took up a self-appointed position as the inspector of sunsets. The sunset today was pretty good too. I particularly like sunsets in winter when trees are reduced to their essential elements.
One thing I learned many years ago I think it was from Jim Peters or Dennis Fast at a photography workshop was that the best sunset photos don’t have the sun in them. The sun usually turns into a yellow blob in photos. Best, usually, to keep it out of sight but look at its magnificent handywork.
I learned a valuable lesson this evening. Sometimes you have to look for beauty where you least expect it. I looked at the sunset and was disappointed it. It was a dud. But the eastern sky was a pastel rose/purple gem. I thought it was a gentle gem. It was almost too subtle for me. It was well worth photographing. This reminded me of a line from another Bruce Cockburn song: “Spirits open to the thrust of grace.” You had to be open for the beauty or you would miss it.
One late afternoon, after a swim I went for a walk in San Tan Mountain Park–together with Usery Park–one of my favorites. It felt great to be back. And it ended with a real happy ending–not the kind that some masseuses provide. The happy ending was a near divine sunset.
It started out as sunsets often do, with a whimper not a bang. Yet I have learned through my years of sunset inspecting, not to give up too soon. Henry David Thoreau called himself an inspector of snow storms; I call myself an inspector of sunsets. This was dandy.
A passerby who saw me setting up my tripod, hollered out, “you’re going to have great pictures.” I was not sure she was right. Like J. Paul Getty said about money, who wanted “more” I wanted more too. I had hope, not confidence.
It started out dull and gray, but I noticed it had some cracks. I knew from past sunset experience that small cracks could allow great beauty to emerge. And it did. Like Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in.” That applied perfectly to this stunning sunset.
After the sun dropped behind the mountain, and then a soft yet powerful pink color emerged in the sky above where the sun had been, turning to crimson. It was a perfect pink smudge right behind a Saguaro cactus creating a lovely silhouette. So often the best sunsets occur after the sun has dropped out of view. Briefly, I was in paradise.