We all see them every day – the sun rises and the sun sets. Most of the time, it’s nothing too spectacular, perhaps some pretty colors are cast with various hues of orange and blue, or red and purple hazes…it’s all well and good. We may even see some spectacular ones…a crimson or scarlett red, or fire-y orange ones. They may also have an added impact if they are reflected in a lake, the ocean, or dramatized by their surroundings – palm trees, mountains, boats, or whatever happens to be there.
The spectacular ones are typically the ones we see in print, on calendars, and in magazines. Yet every day, we find our eyes gazing toward that first and last light…knowing that we could see something magical. Does this make the ones with more vibrant colors more magical? The ones with fewer colors less magical? Perhaps, but consider this – we are always looking for it. Consider this project: take a picture of the sunrise and/or sunset every day for a week, month, or even a few months. Take it from the same spot every day. Find yourself some nice vantage point with some nice accents to the main subject (that being the sunset). Then, after your specified time period is up, peruse the results and see how many “great” sunsets (or sunrises) you saw.
It could be a fun project not only to help you gauge when the sky will be well suited to sunrises and sunsets, but also to exercise some discipline in taking the same shot from the same vantage point, if only to understand when conditions are ideal. This could be termed “scouting” in a sense, because you’ve found a nice place, set things up, planned, and then you just wait for the right light. So many photographers talk about the light, and we hear terms bandied about like “seeing the light”, or “painting with light”. I’ve heard a few mention the idea of “waiting for the right light”, and it mostly has come from landscape photographers. This is what they do…they take the same scene over and over and over.
With practice, they can anticipate when the conditions will be favorable. Their sense are more attuned to things like clouds, weather, and distractions. Rather than relying on luck and serendipity, they plan, research, and study the scene for long periods of time before they find “the right light”. Sure, you can manufacture it, and we’ve all seen the wonder shots in the galleries of others – but if you think about the time and energy that goes into capturing that perfect sunrise or sunset, imagine all the “almost” shots, and the time and energy that went into them, I would suspect that many landscape photographers would say there is value in every sunrise or sunset. Because, even if they didn’t get the light just right in their location, someone – somewhere – when the sun set, nailed it perfectly!
Have you captured your perfect sunrise or sunset yet? Was it planned or by accident? Sound off in the comments and let me know if you think there is still value in sunrises and sunsets. If you’ve got a shot you would like to share, feel free to post that via the upload link too (also in the comments). Happy shooting, and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow.
Oh yeah, did anyone in Colorado see the sunset today? 🙂 Nothing spectacular to write home about, but it was kind of cool colors, and worthy of showing here to indicate that just because it’s not a portfolio shot, sunset shots (in my mind) have value! What do you think?
P.S. Don’t forget, the January Flickr Giveaway is in progress…submit your photos for a chance to win a free copy of Photomatix Pro from the folks at HDR Soft.