The Valley of Fire State Park is located about 40 miles north of Las Vegas and is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. If you’re in the Las Vegas area and have some time for nature, I highly recommend the trip. The main attraction is the intense red color in the sandstone rock formations, but the park also has a number of large concentrations of petroglyphs.
As usual, I went out for a sunset photo shoot. Unfortunately, there were two factors working against the photographers. First of all, there wasn’t a cloud to be found anywhere, so there weren’t any spectacular colors in the sky. The second problem was that most of the park closes at sunset, and the rangers were there to chase us out shortly after the sun went down.
I can certainly understand why parks feel the need to close at sunset – rangers want to go home to their families, and sunset is a very easy time to define. But for photographers, some of the best light actually comes after sunset (or before sunrise). In fact, my favorite time is during civil twilight, which is around a half hour before sunrise or after sunset.
The photo above was actually taken shortly after sunset, and just before I had to pack up and leave. There’s nothing going on in the sky, but the colors, shapes and patterns in the rocks provide plenty of interest. With or without clouds, sunset is still my favorite time of day for landscape photography. The quality of light and the colors can be spectacular.