July 07, 2011

Chasing Sunsets

I wanted a classic blood-red Arizona sunset. A shot that gave me a surge of adrenaline such as this one I had captured (practically on accident), but this time, of a desert sunset. I researched every point I wanted to be beforehand, lugged my family of 5 with me for the first half (and then Domi the second half), and each evening, I plotted myself down approximately 90 minutes before the 7:49 p.m. sunset, and I then realized, the sky was bare--no clouds. 5 out of the 6 days I was there. I wasn't going to get the dramatic red desert sunset with whirling clouds I had envisioned and dreamed about for weeks before this trip. If only I had been there during monsoon season (which is starting as I type this blog).

How arrogant of me to think I could speed across Arizona to capture its magic on my preconceived schedule. Landscape photography is different from anything I've shot before. Unlike photographing people, children, sporting events, and weddings, landscape photography is a slow, and contemplative process. A process that can't always be planned out, especially with mother nature (and also with clusters of sightseers in the middle of summer). Another challenge was metering and exposure. Bright skies and dark canyons, which filled with shadows much earlier than I anticipated, was not easy to photograph because what I saw with my eyes, wasn't the same image I captured with my camera. The clear desert days presented serious contrast problems.

I've learned a fundamental lesson and that is, I simply cannot charge into the natural world and impose my schedule on it. It will happen, when it happens. Even though I didn't get the sunset shot I was coveting, or visit all the spaces I wanted to (that would take weeks), during my time in Arizona, I came across such grand landscapes, and although I didn't capture it all with my camera, I experienced it with my eyes.

I cannot wait to get back there again. There is so much left for me to see.












While taking photos at the South Rim, I realized, I didn't want to be up there. It wasn't enough. I wanted to penetrate deeper in the canyon. I was only 14 when I rafted the Grand Canyon with my father, and I'll never forget those intense 18 days. There is magic down in the canyon and along the Colorado River. I remember seeing things which the majority of Grand Canyon visitors never see because they're at the rim. One of my biggest wishes is that I'll be able to take my own children rafting here one of these days.

Sedona, will be next...

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