The day was cloudy with random rainstorms – awesome displays of sheets of rain descending from the heavens. The conditions were right for a wonderful sunset display at Monument Valley. Interesting weather conditions can make for great photos. Even if the weather conditions are not spectacular, clouds can either make or break the shot. If there are no clouds, the scene is un-interesting. With clouds, the sky can light up with color and character. And what if the clouds are completely blocking the sun?

Set up on our balcony at the View hotel – we waited for the sunset display… and waited… and waited. It was going to be awesome, wasn’t it? After some time, it became clear a major cloud mass was blocking the sun, and it had no intention of moving before the appointed time of sunset. If there were no clouds at all, our subject would at least be lit by the sun.  With the blocked sun we get drab. As you can see below, the monuments look like brown rocks – very uninteresting indeed.


It just isn’t as good without the sunlight from the golden hour

Undaunted, we exited the hotel and began to explore other angles near the hotel. Here’s the culprit, the cloud blocking the sun.


The nasty sun blocker!

No awesome display. Without the light, well, it just isn’t the same. OK, the sunset was a flop.  What about sunrise? There were clouds predicted for sunrise so we were hopeful. A half hour before sunrise, we were again set up on our balcony, finger on the shutter… watching and waiting. The sky began to turn that rich blue and hints of color were appearing on the horizon. We waited with anticipation, and waited…


The light was promising as we waiting for that magical moment.

But it didn’t happen, the clouds remained dark grey. Those “D!#$#” clouds blocked the sun again. How can you get light without the sun?

Desperate we ventured again off the comfort of our balcony, and low and behold, the light was hitting the clouds behind the hotel. These rock monuments were a lot less interesting than the Mitten silhouettes, but they did have “the light”.


Early morning light on rock monuments…

The moral of the story is sometimes the best shot is behind you. Or do a better job of checking the cloud cover before getting up so darned early!

And remember, its all about the light.