Tonight, as the sun sinks, I look up just in time to see the clouds streaking across the sky, brilliantly lit in red and orange. I’ve never seen the sunset in such a way as to create a striped backdrop for the skyline before. I drop everything and run up to the roof. Well, maybe not run, but walk as quickly as I can without falling on my face while carrying a tripod and camera.
When I get to the roof, I am amazed by the stillness of the air and the feeling of warmth rising from the roof. I stand up my camera and start to shoot. I would like to shoot nothing but the sky, but I can’t get the roof top across the street out of the frame.
The clouds create a blaze of fire over the horizon. I stand there pondering whether my photos will look fake, the color is so brilliant. I wonder what about Chattanooga causes so many glorious sunsets? Is it just that because our windows give us a great view of the sunset that I notice how beautiful it is? Or does Chattanooga have some sort of special set of circumstances that generates spectacular sunrises and sunsets on a regular basis? Perhaps it’s just that coming from Columbus, Ohio, we so seldom saw the sun.
I stand for a moment between shots. I let the light change a little before taking the next one. I zoom out and try to capture the vastness of the sky. It’s impossible. I decide right then and there I’m buying a wider-angle lens. I breathe in the evening air, moist with humidity rising off the cooling river. I breathe out and let go of every worry. All I see, think, and feel is the blazing sky.
I look closely and take aim. I capture a moment of light and clouds and manmade structures all combined in a way that they have never been combined before and will never be combined again. I adjust my exposure until, at last, what I see in my LCD is as spectacular as the sky that surrounds me. I breathe again as I look at the Christmas tree reflecting in the river. I wonder if it will show up in my picture.
I watch as the sunlight fades and the sky turns to more subtle shades of fire against twilight blue and then I shoot again, this time zoomed in to capture the reflection of the city on the river.
When the last of the light has faded away and I stand shivering on the roof top as the wind picks up, I pack up my tripod and camera and head back inside. I take a look at my photos on my monitor and I am pleased. While I have much to learn, at least there is one shot that perfectly captured what I wanted to capture while standing on the roof, shooting fire.