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photography is [a black and white sunset]

So last night there was this amazing sunset (although it was in color) and it brought up a ton of emotions and thoughts for me as a photographer. I love the sense of community I feel when I see a sunset because I know everyone in the vicinity is looking at it. I love that it brings to mind a variety of powerful thoughts about creation, nature and God.

But, when a sunset is photographed it feels like forgery. I mean, come on, how does anyone NOT take a great picture of a sunset? It’s like photographing a great piece of art and calling it your own creation. To me, there is no creative talent necessary to document a sunset. I don’t feel like when I photograph a sunset there is a piece of me in the photograph.

I took a picture of the “Fabulous Sunset,” as I titled the folder I put the raw files in, because I couldn’t help myself. It’s like watching a train wreck in a positive way-you just can’t help but stare. However, the whole time I was completely regretting not photographing the sky for hours before the sunset because that’s where I saw the beauty and that’s where I saw myself in the image. But of course life happened and I never got around to it.

The process of photographing a sunset is so banal. I guess I am pretty cynical about this but that’s just because I’ve probably taken thousands of pictures of sunsets in my career and none of them have given me the joy that creating a photograph that communicates the spirit of a person of any age gives me.

What do you think? Do you think there is a craft, spirit, joy in photographing sunsets? I’d love to hear your take on it and your thoughts on my jaded view! How does it make you feel to see the sunset in B&W?

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  1. Reply

    Katie Alkire Farmer

    January 7, 2011

    Hey there! You may not remember me, but we were sorority sisters at the AOII chapter at Long Beach State. I stumbled on your Facebook page through one our our mutual FB friends. I wanted to let you know how much I love looking at your work. When you think of a sunset the first thing that comes to mind are the multitude of colors, but that is not what makes a sunset so spiritual to me. This black and white shows to me the strength of God over His creation. The clouds are scattered about at different heights giving a 3D like view. When I see a sunset it reminds me that this same sun is shining bright somewhere else and also about to rise in glory someplace else. When I am lonely these thoughts remind me that I am not really that far away from friends and family that are so many miles away from me because this same sun will shine on them and provide them the same beautiful vision as well. I lived for a few years after college in San Clemente near the pier. Walking down there to watch sunsets was something I did as much as I could! I really enjoy your work. You have a wonderful talent!! Take Care and God Bless You!!

  2. Reply

    Jennifer Basilio

    January 7, 2011

    When I look at this picture, I think about photography in the past when there was only black, white & gray. I think about Ansel Adams and his photography at Yosemite. I love looking at Ansel Adam’s work and imagining what the colors are in these places that he photographed. I have never visited Yosemite. With your sunset in black and white, I do not have to imagine the colors…I was fortunate enough to have seen the sunset and all it’s glory. One thing that this made me realize, is that I typically pay more attention to the clouds when I view a sunset. I think it’s because the glare of the sunlight on the water is too harsh for my blue eyes. With your photo, as I do with Ansel Adam’s photographs, I pay attention to the multitude of textures that would be missed if the color was there. I love the anger in the oncoming storm clouds and the lines from the swell of the waves and the few twinkling lights from the town below. But in the low center of all of this texture is peace and a light at the end of a tunnel.