This annoys me. Just look at that ludicrous sky, a splash of colour that any child with a messy paintbox can scrawl on to paper. I just had to take a photo to vent about it. Look at that wash of yellow at the bottom: what an inept attempt to show the blaze of the setting sun. If this was entered in a competition where I was a judge, I would sentence it to a hanging.
Others found themselves looking at different parts of this artist’s work. Here is a view someone drew my attention to: east across the Oval to the clock tower of the University with the concrete shell of the stock exchange looming behind it. At least this part looks like a competent watercolour, not the random splash of the sunset.
But then there is this view that another person pointed out, looking northwest at the city’s skyline. Again, the same amateurish dribbles of contrasting colours, and a very ham-fisted attempt at balancing them out by putting a red building on the right and blue buildings on the left and across the bottom. Really! I’m looking forward to the normal grey of smoke and car fumes to damp down the lurid imagination of this artist with the large canvas.
Locked down at home, there is time to look out at the world around me, even with the (literally) hundreds of emails that I need to assign to the “read” folder every day. That’s what life must have been like to the new humans of a million years ago: hunt all day and sit and look around you the rest of the time; no rushing about, so no need to constantly look at watches. The result is that I re-discovered ancient means of time-keeping. There is the quick passing of the day, the sunrise which now wakes me up, the change in the quality of light through the day, and the sunset, full of alarmed birds calling loudly.
But there is a longer passing of time, which I’d not paid much attention to earlier. It is still early in spring time, and I can see the earth slowly wobble in its daily rotation. As a result, the sunset is still moving northwards. I live in a city, so the horizon is interrupted by tall buildings. I’ve been noticing how the sunset was first blocked by one building, before I had a clear view, and now another building is slowly coming in the way. Lucky me. If I didn’t have these buildings I might have had to start hauling large blocks of stones around to build my own calendar.
March is the cruellest month in the mountains. We often go for a short holiday to the Himalayas in March. The roads are usually open, but the weather is unpredictable. We found a hotel in the Garhwal Sivaliks where we were the only guests, and our room had a spectacular view. Our last day there had been clear (photo below) but clouds began to come in over the high peaks just before sunset. Sunset and sunrise paint the snow in glorious colours. The clouds muddied the colours.
Dawn had been even more cloudy, but it had cleared up soon after sunrise. During breakfast we kept our eyes on the clear view of the mountains. The day was great and the view was wonderful. We decided to travel along a route which would keep the high Himalayas in our view most of the time. This was a day when our luck held, until sunset.
March is cruel. The weather keeps changing, and predictions are not accurate more than a day in advance. When we arrived at the hotel the view we had was spectacular for a photographer (above) but disappointing for a traveler. Every year we keep telling ourselves “Next year we’ll come to the Himalayas in April.” Maybe next year we will.
Let me end the year without fuss with two sunsets from Guangzhou. The city once known as Canton is a place where the water and solid land intermingle. It is a city of islands and bridges, perfect for sunset photographs.
This was an interesting year. Hope your next one is even better.
For a few evenings there was a beautiful yellow light which would bathe the world around us after sunset. As the red glow on the clouds faded, moments before it turned dark, the world would become a magical yellow. If you mentioned this to someone on the streets of Mumbai, they would smile and agree. The featured photo was taken quite a while after sunset; you can see that the camera, while trying to compensate for the light, makes a blur of the birds.
This is not a light we see every year. After the monsoon the skies are generally clear of dust. If there is the normal pollution of the city, it just creates a haze and reddens the sunset. This colour came with a clear view of the horizon. It wasn’t even as humid as it could have been. It was a mystery until people started mentioning a raging fire on Butcher Island, off the coast. The fuel that is stored for ships on this outer island had caught fire and it took days to bring the blaze under control.
Light effects at sunrise and sunset depend so much on what the air contains. Moisture, dust and smoke are all things that produced beautiful sunsets. What was this due to?