As you can see in this first photo, there were partly-clear skys up a little bit higher, and a cloud bank near the horizon. I couldn't tell at this point whether the sun was just going to disappear behind the could bank, or whether it might break through below the bank. There were some interesting streaks in the clouds, at the very least.
After a little while, this next picture shows that the sun did break through below the cloud bank. So, at this point my hopes and expectations rose a great deal.
This next shot shows some of the great orange colors that the Arizona skys produce. I hid the sun right behind the cactus, which really helps the colors stand out. Otherwise, when the sun is directly in the shot, the exposure time has to be much shorter so as to keep the sun from looking like a big-ol' wahsed-out bright-white circle. And with the shorter exposures, the rest of the colors are much more subdued. I really like the brighter colors. I also like it when there are great colors in the coulds, but yet you can see some blue sky too.
Finally, as the sun is now long below the horizon, we still had some great colors in the clouds.
I want to say a great big thanks to CatsRfunNZ, who left the following comment last night on one of the photos in one of my PicasaWeb albums:
"So what is the secrete to Arizona to always having such beautiful sunsets/sunrises??
Do you use a tripod?"
Here are the answers as best as I can make them up:
There really isn't any secrete - just be willing to get up early enough, or be willing to go out every night. Which, by the way, is why I happen to prefer sunsets over sunrises - they don't happen so early in the day!!! I know that God makes some really beautiful stuff happen in the sky no matter where you are, but I think that the 'dusty' sky here in Arizona help to really make the reds and oranges show up. I've seen really great photos of sunsets from around the world, but maybe they happen here a little more often.
However, they don't happen all the time. Sometimes the cloud cover is too extensive, and the sun never actually rises or sets -- we just get increasing or decreasing grayness. But, as you can see in my albums, when you can actually see the sun set, the worst we get is really awsome orange!!! Which is not too bad for as 'bad as it gets.'
And, no and yes. At first, I run around just holding my cameras and taking shots to experiment with framing the various stuff (cactus, trees, etc.) in the forground, and mountains and such in the background. When it is still bright enough, the exposure time is short enough that the tripod is not necessary. But, I pay attention to the exposure time, and when it gets below about 1/60 of a second, I start thinking 'tripod.' Actually, depending upon the urgency (you know, sometimes things are happening too fast to set up the tripod), I'll actually take a hand-held shot down to about 1/15 second. But, I do my darndest to hold as still as I can. And below this, I definately do set up and use the tripod. Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post (or maybe the equipment list - I don't remember exactly), about this time I shoot mostly with the Canon EOS Rebel xsi DSLR because I can vary the aperature and exposure a great deal.