Here in the Valley of the Sun, I may be a bit biased, but we have some of the most fiery and jaw-dropping sunsets anywhere in the world. One thing that has been a constant in my life as a landscape photographer has been chasing sunsets. This passion has been rewarded from Hawaii to western Norway to eastern Africa to Antarctica. On several occasions I have stood aghast in all kinds of weather drinking in memorable sunsets that will likely flash before my eyes one day on my death bed. I feel very privileged to live in Phoenix because I would rank many of them here in Arizona to my top 100.
What’s fascinating about the intoxicating sunset that entranced me tonight is I almost missed it. It was quite cloudy in Phoenix this afternoon, and I almost decided not to go chase the sun. I simply thought it would be a disappointing day to go out and take photos. But what I saw instead was a sunset that came to life with layers of clouds that would make even a cynic believe in God.
From the side of a rocky ridge at Tempe’s Papago Park, I hugged a cliff, climbed some rocks, pulled my camera out of my backpack, screwed a circular polarizer on my DSLR and quickly set up my tripod. Almost on cue, that’s when the heavens went to work. The sun emerged behind downtown Phoenix and the west valley in the distance. I was dumbstruck by a spectrum of gold, amber, orange and blues melting into a symphony of light. I couldn’t believe that I almost decided to sit on my couch 45 minutes earlier.
Sometimes in life it’s easy to be lazy. I had the flu a week earlier and I was still feeling a little weak this weekend. I could have sat around with a good excuse to not leave the house. But instead I decided to immerse myself in nature on a Sunday afternoon without any expectations and let nature play out a visual concerto. Sometimes you don’t know what you will see and maybe that’s part of the magic. Just like life, it’s the unexpected treasure that reveals itself when you are least looking for it.
As I start another week of work, it was the perfect moment to remember to sit back and observe. Sometimes we miss the magic of life because we are not patient enough to step into nature and lose ourselves. That’s the moment when you find something like a sunset that will make you believe in God.
Here is the procession that I almost missed.