A Sunset Painted Canvas of Clouds

Photographing Sunsets over Lake Powell – Part 1

The wide open skies of Arizona and Utah play host to some of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life.

A good sunset, photographically speaking, requires a few of the following elements to come together precisely at the right time.

  1. Time. The Sun needs to be at a point that is low enough in the sky for the atmosphere of the Earth to filter the Sun’s light down to the warm purples, reds and oranges that we find pleasing.
  2. Clouds. Although just the setting Sun itself can be an interesting photographic element, we typically want the largest possible canvas to capture that warm glow of the golden hour. Sometimes the stormiest skies make the best canvas. Sometimes the canyons are the focus.
  3. Direction. Clouds are good, right? Not when they’re in the way of the sun. We hope that the sun peaks under the clouds, so if it is clear to the west we’re in good shape.
  4. Interest. If we’re just talking about catching red, glowing clouds we’re probably done here, but to really amp up the excitement you’ll want to be positioned to get the golden light on some of your landscape as well. This is especially true for Lake Powell as the formations of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area really shine when the sun sets. The Navajo Sandstone captures a lot of light, imparts the iron-oxide glow and reflects it around the other canyons. I like to also include elements that are not sunlit to give a frame of reference to the awesome light.
Sunset over Wahweap
Sunset over Wahweap, Lake Powell
A Sunset Painted Canvas of Clouds
A Sunset Painted Canvas of Clouds

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *