The Colors of Sunset

One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching a sunset is experiencing the different colors that appear in the sky. I made the photograph below from the Watchman Trail in Zion National Park a couple weeks ago.

The Watchman, Zion National Park

Many sunsets are orange, yellow, and red, but other colors are possible depending on the sky conditions. Because of the arrangement of clouds this night in Zion, the sunset featured the colors pink and blue. I was excited to be going to Zion on this day because the skies were partly to mostly cloudy. On days like that, the sun may have an opportunity to light up the clouds from below just after sunset. In this case, the distribution and thickness of the cloud cover created these interesting colors.

Around the Watchman itself, the clouds were thinner, and the pink sky of dusk illuminated the clouds from behind. Meanwhile, the other half of the sky had thicker cloud cover, and that’s where the sun was setting. Not much light was shining through those clouds, and the deeper shadows created the blue color in that part of the sky.

Clouds make all the difference in landscape photography. Here’s a photograph I made a couple years ago from a similar location. This photograph has a completely different feel to it because of the different light and colors created by the clouds.

The Watchman over Springdale, Zion National Park

Without the clouds and the beautiful colors they help produce, I had to create interest in my photograph in other ways. For example, that night I chose to make my photograph a little earlier so I could include the sun in the frame. As a result, the photograph has a completely different color pallette from the one above.

That’s another one of the great things about landscape photography. Returning repeatedly to a beautiful place creates opportunities to make different kinds of photographs of the same subject. I was very happy to return to the Watchman Trail in Zion National Park to make a new photograph of one of my favorite mountains in the park.