Photo Observation – Sunset



2. I do not know where I originally discovered the picture, but it is from National Georgraphic Travel, and can be found at

I could not find the photographer or where the photo is featured on their website, only the direct link to the image itself.

3. Theme: Sunsets or Sunrises


I have an affinity for broken and abandoned structures.  Ghost towns in the California desert.  Empty amusement parks in New Orleans. Pripyat. Detroit.  There is a presence in these places, a sad emptiness where memories linger, a feeling of lives lived, left unfinished.  Broken memories of what was.  Churches have an even stronger presence about them, as well as an even greater sadness.  Large or small, simple or ornate, They are buildings built to be beautiful, built to have a presence, making their deterioration and degradation even more despairing.  This building is dying.  It is winter, the trees and ground are devoid of life.  The roof is weak and falling in—it won’t be long before it collapses in on itself.

The light though.  When one calls to mind a sunset, color is one of the first things evoked.  Brilliant golds and reds, shifting patterns across clouds and rocks as the light bends through the atmosphere in its last moments.  There is little color here, however.  With little light left to hit this side of the building, the church is in deep shadow, and at some places pure silhouette.  The sun is a dull yellow, probably not very different from how it was the entire day.  For this one moment, though, just before it disappears, it cuts through the grey of the winter air, streaming through the open windows.  It would be easy to compare this light with reverence, with holy radiance and divinity.  The radiance of God is one of the most common motifs of God or Jesus throughout Christian doctrine—yet this is not enough.  This is not what makes the picture for me.

The reason these motifs exist is because of the universal connection between light and life.  This is life entering this building again.  The light spilling out of the windows reveals details in the paneling of the walls, if only for a moment.  In the next moment, the sun will sing a little lower and the light will no longer be streaming from these windows.  The glow of the sunset may remain a little longer, but the church will be reduced to a silhouette, then swallowed into the darkness as the earth turns and last of the light disappears into the night.

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