Second Day in Ranikhet
27th August, 2017
Having lived for a little over 37 years, I’ve lived through about 13,505 sunrises and 13,505 sunsets. I have not seen all of them. I certainly have not photographed most of them. I find them fascinating nonetheless. Having always been certain that photographing sunrises and sunsets was an amateur photographer’s craze, I am surprised at my not waning but growing fascination.
At about 1700 hours, regardless of where I am, I find myself looking out the window. To assess whether that day’s sky situation might offer up something worth photographing. Running up to the roof of my Gurgaon apartment building had become a ritual till they locked up the access door.
Sunrises are harder to photograph. Waking up at 0500 hours has never been on my agenda. If it feels like work, it probably is. 1700 hours is more doable. It is at the end of the “work” day. If the day has involved staring at a laptop screen for hours, tired eyes can shed some fatigue staring at clouds hundreds of miles away. To be able to feel the warmth of the Sun on my face. Reminds me of how lucky I am to have had a chance to inhabit what is probably the only planet with life on it. Zillions of probabilities coming together. Right time right place. And I get to enjoy the colors in the sky. The Sun makes life possible on Earth. It’s insanely amazing in my opinion.
Our busy daily lives make it easy to take this stuff for granted. Looking up at the sunset is my way of reminding myself of the wonders of the natural world. Wonders that make daily life frustrations seem minuscule, unimportant. Photographing sunsets is my way of expressing and feeling gratitude.
When I have time, I prefer setting up the DSLR to capture a set of images for about an hour – to create a timelapse as the final result. When I don’t have time, I might still get a timelapse on my phone. The advantage of doing this on the phone is that I have to put it on Airplane Mode. No calls and notifications for an hour. I am forced to confront that empty space in time. Wring my hands for a bit. Then settle down, stare at the clouds, do nothing. Internal dialog is limited to, “OMG why is it so pretty?!” or “Ufff! Such pink clouds!” or “Wow! How did I get so lucky?!”
Sunsets have also made me practice “letting go”. The more I’ve practiced, the better I’ve gotten at it. Very useful skill to have to aim for a stress-free life.
At about 1700 hours, the sky can indicate whether the evening’s sunset will be something worth photographing. Assuming I have the time, I might prepare the DSLR setup and wait.
I check the view from my window again at 1800 hours. It looks like it is definitely going to be worth photographing. At about 1815 hours, I head upstairs – taking the staircase – if I take the elevator and there’s a power cut, it is likely I will end up spending the sunset in the elevator. I have a tripod, a couple of cameras with a couple of lenses and my mobile phone ( or two! ) for good measure. Full-sleeved shirt and full length trousers to keep the mosquitoes away. By the time I’ve set everything up, it’s about 1830 hours. The sky is flat and dull. The Sun is a pale yellow disc, behind a layer of pollution. I take a deep breath and settle down anyway. Who knows! It might change again by 1930 hours, which is when the Sun is supposed to set completely. For dramatic effect, just for my self, I could smash my camera in a rage if there’s nothing to photograph. But cameras don’t grow on trees and netiher does money, so, I let go. With life, one never knows. Take a deep breath and make the best of what you have.
Stories from Ranikhet from our previous visits can be found under the #NAINAxRanikhet tag.