New Prints: The Sun in the West Series

From the Pensacola Beach Collection

Sun in the West will be a continuing series of photographs taken at Pensacola Beach around the time of sunset. Not all will be the traditional “sunset on the beach” image; in fact, I hope very few will be so cliche as that. Instead this will be an opportunity for me to explore the interplay of light, shadow, and color as the sunset dramatically changes the beach environment. I can’t say how often this series will be updated, but I hope to do some interesting things with it as I experiment with it. For now, these four images were captured last fall and I believe they set a strong foundation going forward.

Sun in the West #1

This initial image is of the last moment of a not particularly interesting day. I had gone to the beach because I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my afternoon, and just as the light started changing (the approach of the “golden hour”), clouds started moving in. I was convinced my time had been wasted, but since I still had nothing better to do, I sat and waited. Over the course of the hour prior to sunset, the clouds shifted, creating this spectacular striated pattern. The most brilliantly colored part of the sky was obviously that around the sun, but the sun is a famously difficult photographic subject. In the last moment before its disappearance, I captured this one image, which made up for the hour – the day – that whole month, really.

Sun in the West #2

The play of light and shadow is such a fascinating subject when doing sunset photography. Here, you can tell from how the light is striking the sand that the sun is very low in the sky. A few minutes before, this exact scene would have been too bright to be interesting – a few minutes later, and it would have been too dark to see any details.

Sun in the West #3

This image is a particular favorite of mine from the series. I am facing the east, and the light is all reflected from the sun setting behind me. The soft colors make the photograph seem more like a pastel, contrasting with the more vivid colors of the traditional pictures you see of a beach sunset.

Sun in the West #4

This image was actually captured well after sunset. Six minutes after the sun disappeared, to be exact – that’s a lot later than it sounds, when you’re having to take pictures using nothing but light reflected from the clouds. Speaking of the clouds, you may be able to tell from the pattern that this was taken the same afternoon as the first photograph in the series.


~ by David Cupp on August 12, 2008.

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