Sunsets are a mesmerizing subject for photographers. The natural phenomenon is filled with color and texture. We can’t help ourselves. But the truth is that the majority of the shots taken of sunsets end up on the cutting room floor. It’s not that the colors don’t measure up. It’s not that the shots aren’t composed well. The reason is that after each of us captures so many sunsets, that they lack interest. But is that really the case? Or are we focusing too much on the sun?
Kevin Thornhill’s photo, Chaoctic Sky (sik), shows us that there is more to sunsets than the sunset itself. Kevin has given us a context, a setting that shows us the power of a sunset. Here we are viewing the beauty beyond the sun and the light and the colors. We’re even looking beyond the cool textures in the sky. We love that stuff, and we’ll eat it up time after time after time again. But what really makes this shot is the context of the bridge with the looming city on either side of the river.
Compositionally, the buildings and the bridge frame the setting sun. But it’s not the sun that our eye is drawn to. Thanks to the texture and the ripples in the foreground, our eye is drawn towards the reflection. In that area, we see more definition, more detail. There’s another reason as well: Our eye likes to wander in a ring around the center. This is the basis for the rule of thirds (remember, the behavior came first, not the rules).
Another reason I like this shot is because of the context that it provides as a travel photo (One doesn’t have to travel to create travel photos). Within the photo, you can clearly see the Tower Bridge off in the distance. The London Bridge is also in the shot, though you can’t really make it out with the other bridges in the shot. There are also several other landmarks in the photo, but I’m not really the best person to quiz about that stuff. I guess my point is that if you’re taking travel photos of destinations, there’s no reason why they can’t be as beautiful as this shot. You can really take the time to compose a great shot, and have a photograph as well.
Kevin has an exceptional photostream and a website, both filled with fantastic photos. His works feature architectural photography and street photography, among other things. If you liked Chaoctic Sky, be sure to check out his other works as well.