As a photographer, I'm a little obsessed with light. Okay, maybe I am really obsessed. My eyes are always searching for pretty light, for light from buildings hitting other buildings and creating water-y reflections, for trees and hair back lit by the sun, for ambient light and natural light, for the catch light in people's eyes. Here's an example. This morning I got up early to put gas in my mom's car before she had to go to work. I got to the gas station while it was still dark, but as I was filling up, the sun's light was just starting to appear over and around the Superstition Mountains. And in one moment the gas station was only lit by the fluorescent lights above and then! and then, everything was ever so softly illuminated by the sun rise. So gorgeous.
The other day I was talking with a bride about the photography timeline for her wedding and we were figuring out when sunset would be on her wedding day. In my head I can usually kinda figure it out. I know that on October 15th, it will be dark by about 6 and so then I will just take away a minute for every day any time after that up until around December 22nd, the longest night of the year.
Or so I thought!
I always knew that Winter starts around December 21st/22nd/23rd and that that day is the longest night of the year and the shortest day of the year. But what I always figured was that the first day of Winter was also when darkness arrived the earliest. I knew that around June 21st was when Summer started, so I figured the longest day of the year was also the day the sunlight stayed the latest....
But I've been wrong this whole time.
And, actually, it's kind of a relief.
The truth of the matter is, that here in Arizona, the first day that night arrives the earliest this year will be November 29th. Sunset is at 5:20 pm that day. And sunset will continue to be at 5:20 for ten days, until December 8th. And then on December 9th, sunset will happen at 5:21 and every day after that until July 6th sunset will arrive later and later, by about a minute.
From June 22 to July 6, sunset will arrive at 7:42. So for 15 whole days, sunset will arrive at 7:42. And then on July 7, sunset will arrive at 7:41.
Figuring this out seems like such a relief or revelation or epiphany or something to me. I always had this sense that early December was the hardest time of year and that by Christmas things felt lighter. I always just associated it with early December being the time for school finals and the time when some get-together or party is planned every . single . night . And that's kind of overwhelming.
But really, why does winter and summer just hang there? 10 days for winter, 15 days for summer and all the other days of the year are stair-stepping up or down by a minute or two or so. ( In order to see what I mean, take a look at this site: Time and Date .)
I wish I knew somebody who could explain this to me.
Somebody who could take a beach ball and maybe a flash light or a laser pointer (the kind you use to play with cats) and be like, Okay so this is the Earth, and this is the Plane of the Ecliptic and this is how the earth is tilted and this is the Sun and the Sun is moving like this, and the Earth is turning like this and we're all moving and this is how the Sunlight hits the earth at such and such time of year....and blah blah and blah.
And when they were done it would make perfect sense why the sunset just kinda hangs there in early December and late June.
I went to Jerome and Prescott this past July 6th, the last Summer night when the dark arrived the latest. Past Jerome is Mingus Mountain. Here are some photos from Elk Well on Mingus Mountain:
Sun outside a restaurant in Prescott:
Watson Lake. This place is so enchanting-looking to me. I would love to do bridal portraits or an engagement session or a trash the dress there. This girl was waiting for the kids to come down off the rocks---I know you can't tell from the image so much, but her salmon-colored skirt had silver wric-wrac on it. Now I want a skirt with silver wric-wrac on it!
Le Full Moon!
View of Prescott Valley from the 4th floor of the Comfort Inn and Suites (a hotel where they put out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches around 10 at night for night owls to enjoy).
and here is light from the sunrise from the next morning, the morning that night would start arriving sooner and keep arriving sooner until December 9th, when night starts to arrive later, if only by about a minute....