Bewitching hour post sunset
Sky’s palette shifts its subtle tones, behind a suburban silhouette
Coloured clouds weep
I turn aside from the point in the horizon where the sun has just slipped away, partway along a picture postcard scene with city buildings, the curve of a ruffled bay, the gentle slap of waves on a modest beachfront. The afterglow continues – the reason I rarely leave a sunset before thirty minutes have elapsed – and I am intrigued by the sky-high fall of ephemeral rain from clouds bathed in the natural orange glow of a post-sunset sky; the evocative man-made and landscaped silhouette is a secondary bonus. A series of images taken that evening show the sky’s palette changing, subtle hues shifting, as I move the viewfinder along that angled slope, with varying shapes of houses, rooflines, trees, not sure which shot will be chosen in the end as representative of this moment in time.
Perhaps it is the small silhouette of a tree – cedar? cypress? – to the far right of the image that determines my choice; the eye moves occasionally to its delicate outline, its elegant little silhouette, just to check it is still there. I find myself returning to this portion of the image even after I have re-visited the vibrant rain clouds and the obvious central motif, the silhouetted rooflines easing along the sloping hill.
The term ‘silhouette’ became popular in the early 19th century, although profile portraits cut from black paper were in vogue earlier than this. Hans Christian Anderson produced small paper-cut scenes to illustrate his stories, as did Arthur Rackham later on with his silhouette pictures, in the early 20th century. And it is probably a throwback to my childhood – and the many fairytale books I read – that something seems comfortable and familiar about this ‘Twilight Tears’ image. Perhaps there is even a passing reference to Asian shadow-puppet plays I may have seen over the years, in books, film and television, if not in reality …