Posted by: Michelle Stella Riordan | December 26, 2011

My Moment of Zen…

  My Moment of Zen…


   When the demands of the day are great and the stress has my shoulders up to my ears, there is no greater relief than to head to a serene and calming sunset.

   At the end of the day, I will look toward the West and the sky simply calls to me.  I grab my camera gear and park the car off the road near a bend.  The tripod is set up first, then the camera and, finally, me.  I always pick this special rock to sit upon because it is flat enough to be comfortable.  The first layer of the day’s grime washes away as I become mesmerized by the sounds of the water gently hitting the sand.  I shut my eyes to listen.  It is music of a different rhythm.  It cleanses my soul while the breeze lifts my spirits.  The warmth of the sun wraps itself like a soft blanket around my face.  It is just me and the sky.                                                                                                                                    

   My thoughts turn to the setting sun.  Colors splash across the sky like a painter’s palette.   No two sunsets are alike.  The sky is dynamic.  Clouds may take the shape of  battling bison, then the wind gently reforms the clouds into sailboats gliding across the heavens.  The sun itself looks different every evening, the way it blends into the horizon.  It appears as if a drop of blood is squeezed from an eye-dropper.   Never perfectly round, it is being absorbed into the water.  

      In these circumstances, it gives me a sense that no matter what happens during the work day or with the kids, this serene place is ever-changing, but in a constant way.  The tide comes in.  The tide goes out.  No wave ever touches the shore the same way again. No grain of sand stays in the same spot.  The breeze is always different.  It whispers through the marsh.  It tells me that, “All is well.  Tomorrow is another day to tackle the world.”   The feel of the breeze is as if a feather has floated by and brushed my cheek.  Warm sand shifts between my toes.  It gives me a sense of peace. 

      Renewed and inspired by all of this, I attempt to capture this event.  It becomes my interpretation of the sky.  My visual.  My art.  There is nothing more satisfying than to take life down to a two dimensional image and have somebody say, “Wow!”  If I can transport them to this spot for even a second, I have done my craft well.  Even as the sun is swallowed up by the horizon, the show does not stop.  The best colors come within the next thirty to sixty minutes after sunset.  It is as if the sun cannot be put to rest, it cannot give up its place.   The angle of the sun, the shimmering air, and the amount of clouds upon the horizon combine to give you an amazing scene.  Each color of the rainbow is represented so vividly and then is toned down as if on a dimmer switch, slowly, ever so slowly. 

      When all light seems to have gone from the sky, except for the slimmest glow on the horizon, a new wonder appears.  In the blink of an eye, stars pop out of a deep blue field.  As my eyes adjust, I see more stars winking into recognition.  As if not to be forgotten, a slim crescent moon kisses the sky above the horizon where the sun has just set.  It is as if the music of the sunset has given rise to a dance of the night sky.  One by one the twinkling lights become brighter.  

     As if on cue, my cell phone rings and brings me back to reality.  I can now go home with a new sense of calm.  It is as if the sun has just set for me tonight.  A perfect way to end the day; the familiar sights, the reassuring sounds, the sense of clarity.  All this blends together to wash away the strain of the day.  I part company with this moment knowing we will meet here again. 

   It is a familiar ritual.  The sun rises.  The sun sets.  Life goes on, but at a more pleasant pace.

Moon and Venus after sunset

Moon and Venus: Egg Harbor Township


Scenic, Nature & Landscape  Photography, Photography By Exposure

2% waxing moon


Scenic, Nature & Landscape  Photography, Photography By Exposure

Moon and Venus

Scenic, Nature & Landscape  Photography, Photography By Exposure

Crescent Moon and reflection over Silver Lake


Can you find Venus or Jupiter in the night sky?



Michelle Stella Riordan

Photography By Exposure

Life is an Adventure…I photography it!




  1. Michelle Stella, I admire your gifts of artistic and literary talent.

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