Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunset thoughts

click photo to enlarge
"The sky is the daily bread of the imagination."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. poet and essayist

I've said elsewhere in this blog that sunsets are undoubtedly one of the most photographed subjects. But it's not just photographers who are seduced by the blaze of fire in the sky at the end of the day: poets and painters frequently press the sunset into service as metaphor. When, in 1839, Turner painted his picture of the old warship, "The Fighting Temeraire," being towed by a steam tug to be broken up at the end of its life, he depicted the scene against a fiery sunset to emphasise that its days were ended. Shakespeare uses the sunset in a similar way in these lines, "In me thou see'st the twilight of such day, As after sunset fadeth in the west; Which by and by black night doth take away".

The challenge for the photographer, the painter and the poet is to use this well-worn idea of the sunset as representing an end, in a fresh and revealing way. And, as far as photography goes, that is a major aim in photographing any subject. The past 170 years have seen so many photographers capture most subjects in myriad ways that it's a real challenge to present a shot that steps outside a genre, and a way of seeing, that hasn't been done before.

Today's photograph makes no claims in that department. It's a shot of the sky after the sun has set. A particularly lovely combination of clouds and colours caused me to take yet another sunset image. The one thing I very consciously did in my capture was to move so the trees at the bottom right became silhouettes on the horizon. Their insignificance, when seen in this way, seemed to magnify the majesty of this very conventional subject.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 29mm (58mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5
Shutter Speed: 1/80
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On