No two sunsets are the same. It is known. Yet in my half decade of chasing light, either patterns, clouds or color often share a degree of similarity. Last night felt different. Driven by three distinct cloud decks, a high level layer of cirrus sat above low level clouds arrayed across most of the sky. Undercutting those two distinct cloud decks was a fast moving marine layer firing near ground level clouds westward off the ocean. Three levels, each moving in different directions at different speeds.
A three-tiered cloud deck isn’t something I happen on too often, yet on its own is not exactly uncommon. Helping to stage the rarer setting was the well spaced gaps marking the reticulated cloud pattern. I’ve done this enough times to know the sun wasn’t getting underneath this layer of clouds. Which is to say they were not going to color up thanks to an unworkable angle. However, the high cirrus deck exposed behind the breaks in the lower level clouds offered a backdrop that could color up vividly. And that’s exactly what happened. A sunset light show ignited high above a layer of clouds that could have otherwise sent me home without a shot.
It was not only timing and spacing working in my favor last night. Nature threw out another solid by working in hints of purple. Purple is the color I happen upon least in all my sunset expeditions—which is now well in the hundreds. I am certain there is a physical explanation for why purple shows itself least. Perhaps owing to having the shortest wavelength and highest frequency of all visible light? I don’t know. Regardless hints of it worked into last night’s palette. You can see where the pink pastels begin to fade back to a deeper violet hue. This is most visible toward the top of the photograph, in the center. It’s reflected in the tide pool marking the foreground.
All in all it was a great night shooting—one I want to come again.
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