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On my road trip through Washington state last month, I was driving east early one morning, and just at sunrise I happened to be in a particularly nondescript region, photographically speaking.  I had crossed the Cascades in the dark, which was really a darn shame, and was in an area that appeared to be a high plateau, scrub-brush and ranching kind of place right as the sun was rising.  As I was driving, I looked around for an interesting foreground for a sunrise shot, but there was nothing to be found that I could get to, at least not without trespassing on someone’s land.  No clump of cottonwoods, no windmill, no abandoned farmhouse, nothing.  The sun came up, and I kept driving.

I need a second chance, I thought.  Wouldn’t it be great if the sun could come up again, and I could be in the right place at the right time?  Even hills would do…

I had never driven through this part of Washington before, so I had no idea that the road curved ahead, and conveniently placed a row of hills between me and the sun.  And while I drove, the sun went behind the hills, and I thought “Hey, I will get a second chance to shoot this same sunrise, and from a much better perspective than the first time I saw it.  How cool is that?”

I had enough lead time to pull off the highway and position myself for a shot at “Sunrise #2,” which came close on the heels of “Sunrise #1.”  This time, with four rows of hills in the foreground, and a scattering of clouds around the sun, it was an image worth capturing.  The silhouetted towers on the first two rows of hills, and the silhouetted trees on the third and fourth row of hills, all serve to lend a nice feeling of depth to the image.  And there was even a little bit of smoke in the air from some wildfires burning quite a ways away that intensified the orange glow in the sky, and probably also contributed to the purple haze on the hills.

Life doesn’t always give you second chances, but when it does, you don’t have much of an excuse for not taking them.



  1. Many years ago, on a winter evening flight from London to Los Angeles, I watched the sun set as we headed over the North Atlantic. Later in the flight, over Greenland, we “caught up” the sun and it rose again in front of us. Then as we headed south over Canada it set for the second time that day. Like your hills changing the altitude of the horizon, my experience is just the laws of physics in action but that didn’t stop it feeling magical.

  2. Breath-taking shot… Beautiful the way you got your second chance 🙂

    • Thanks Andrea. If only we could get a “do-over” for everything…

      RPRT Photo

  3. Great story, James. Thanks for sharing.

    I haven’t experience a double sunset while flying, though I have experience the “instant” sunset when flying east, and the (seemingly) hour-long sunset when flying west.

    As you say, simple physics, but it also feels magical.

    If I had been familiar with the road and the topography in this region, I would’ve known right where to go for “sunset # 2.” But since I didn’t, I felt that the road leading me there was a serendipitous occurrence, for which I was very grateful indeed.

    RPRT Photo

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