I have seen many beautiful sunsets in my life. Few of them have stayed in my mind. The sunset Nabokov fastidiously painted is one of them:
"I recall one particular sunset. It lent an ember to my bicycle bell. Overhead, above the black music of telegraph wires, a number of long, dark-violet clouds lined with flamingo pink hung motionless in a fan-shaped arrangement; the whole thing was like some prodigious ovation in terms of color and form! It was dying, however, and everything else was darkening, too; but just above the horizon, in a lucid, turquoise space, beneath a black stratus, the eye found a vista that only a fool could mistake for the spare parts of this or any other sunset. It occupied a very small sector of the enormous sky and had the peculiar neatness of something seen through the wrong end of a telescope. There it lay in wait, a family of serene clouds in miniature, an accumulation of brilliant convolutions, anachronistic in their creaminess and extremely remote; remote but perfect in every detail; fantastically reduced but faultlessly shaped; my marvelous tomorrow ready to be delivered to me."
Over the years, as a landscape photographer, I always wonder what kind of lenses he used to capture his sunset if he happened to make that picture as a photographer. Wide, normal or long? Very hard for me to figure it out. I think I have an answer now. He used a zoom lens. The sunset he painted vividly from his memory is beautiful and I have to admire his mastery of words. I have to use a zoom lens to enjoy his sunset.
However, his sunset is vastly different from Adams Moonrise in its way to impact our imagination and emotions. Adams Moonrise is a direct black and white image which gives the viewer very strong visual and emotioinal response. You don't need much imagination to enjoy his moonrise. It is just there right in front of you. Maybe here lies the difference between words and images, as two different forms of art, they affect different parts of our brains.