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Braindump: Photographing Sunsets

18 May 201303:54PMbraindump

a sunset made of sunsets

This is a sunset made of smaller sunsets.

Specifically, it's a photomosaic made from all the images from my photo library which are of sunsets. Not of people at sunset, or things in sunsets. Just sunsets. There are a lot of them. I've done this to illustrate a point. Because if you're anything like most people who own a camera, you probably point it at the sunset every time you get the chance.

Why, though? Here's the problem with these photos: they're totally decontextualised. They don't remind me of anything or record anything significant. Heck, sunsets are pretty much the least significant thing there is. They're a physical fact of the earth's rotation. If one doesn't happen tomorrow, we'd have bigger problems than missed photo opportunities.

I guess it boils down to why you take photos. I use 'em as a way to remember stuff which happened. For that, sunsets are great. There's this thing called the Golden Hour, which is that period in late afternoon when the sun is getting low in the sky. When you shoot photos or video in that kind of light, stuff (especially people) looks really good. Don't ask me why.

Anyway, the point is that if you think about photos the way I do, an empty sunset is a bit dumb. There's nothing novel there to capture. I suspect that a lot of people think there is, though, in an 'every snowflake is unique' kind of way. I guess it's true that no two sunsets are ever the same, but unique doesn't mean special, or meaningful. It just means unique. Random numbers are unique, and we don't photograph those.

But some people take photos because they look interesting, or because they enjoy the process, or because it's something to get them out of the house. It's art, or craftsmanship, or a hobby. Which is fine. They do, like I've said, make stuff look pretty. And they're pretty damn reliable. They're pleasant to walk in. And maybe they pose a technical challenge for DSLR owners, since shooting into direct sunlight can't be easy.

So I don't mean to say that nobody should take them. Far from it. If it makes you happy, then go for your life. Just try to think about why you're doing things first.

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