The day had been raining off and on, the light was nice, but nothing special. So I was looking forward to the sunset where often even the stormiest of clouds can take a little break and let sun light shine through. I spent this time doing some scouting and exploring of the area. Most of the shots I have seen of this area by others were from what I would call in front of the Temples of the Sun and Moon, with the Temple of the Sun taking precedence, and shooting it at sunrise.
I had an idea that for sunset, if I shot the Temples from the back side, behind them and closer to the Temple of the Moon, that I could get the sunlight illuminating the backs of the Temples. So off I went, being very careful where I walked. The desert soil there is very soft to begin with, and add to that the moisture from the rain, my footprints would not be hidden from view. I took thought as to where I walked, keeping one eye on the angle I would want to compose my shots, and another eye open to make sure I didn’t step through any potential foreground areas for my shots.
With that in mind, I typically tried walking in small gullies, or flat areas that didn’t have any of that cool cracked soil on it. Also keeping close to plants and not walking in the open areas to keep my impact in that fragile land to a minimum. With my exploring, I found a large wash area where the run off from storms had created, and also not too far from that vicinity some of that nice cracked soil. I stopped and set up some shots, taking them in the overcast light. While the shots were not what I was hoping for because of the sky, it gave me a chance to set up the compositions and to pick out my locations for hopefully a grand sunset.
As you may have noticed in your own photography, when sunset comes, it can come very fast, and leave very suddenly! So if you are able to have already scoped out some compositions prior to the sunset, then when that time comes, you can be much faster in shooting, and potentially get several compositions with some cool sunset color.
Fast forward now to sunset. I can see by the sun occasionally poking through thin areas in the clouds as it makes it’s decent, that the potential was very likely for a cool sunset. I put myself in position for this shot as the sun dipped to the horizon and the rays began to shoot out. Then before my eyes, the grandeur and majesty went on display... What a beautiful sight it was, and what an exciting moment to witness. Make sure as you are out shooting and focusing on what the conditions are before you, to then fast forward in your mind to sunset and make plans as to where you will shoot. Don’t wait until the sunset (or sunrise) is bursting out in color like it’s the fourth of July, be prepared!