Find Joy In Every Sunset

It is hard to beat a beautiful sunset. I think sunsets might be one of the most universally cherished scenes. Sunsets happen everywhere.

Everyone can see a sunset. Sunsets occur along city skylines or out in nature. You can experience sunsets out on an adventure. But there is also simple joy in experiencing a sunset while relaxing at home.

Maybe you are even just sitting inside watching TV and happen to look out the window and notice the sky looks nice. Then you walk outside for just a few minutes to revel in the beauty of a sunset.

Sunset on the Outer Banks. One of my oldest sunset photos from way back in 2007.

Sunset photography is one of the first types of landscape photography I remember trying to create. For a long time I didn’t create much sunset photography. In my mind I had this hang-up that told me I could only create sunset photography if I was in some beautiful scenic location. I needed to be out on a trip or adventure somewhere in nature for it ti be the right time to create a stunning sunset photograph.

Evolve your thinking

As my thinking about photography in general and sunsets specifically began to evolve I realized that my previous thinking on the subject just didn’t make any sense. I didn’t need to travel someplace outside of where I live most of my life in order for it to be worthy of creating sunset photography.

One of my favorite locations on Seneca Lake.

But my mind was still tied to this idea that I had to be someplace nice and scenic. I was able to take advantage of where I live to photograph sunsets on the Finger Lakes of our region. Photographing the setting sun and the mixture of colors that might paint the sky along the lake shore can be a really magical experience.

But still, do we need to reserve sunsets for that type of scenario. I am known to tote my camera around with me in any scenario where I can manage it. This includes running races. I have photographed sunsets at races I have attended. I also try to carry a camera suitable for landscape photography with me even if my main goal on a given day might be to photograph wildlife. Even on a trip to Benezette, Pennsylvania to photograph the elk herd that lives in that area I still managed to capture a beautiful sunset through the forest trees.

Freely photographing sunsets

Now my mind has evolved to think about sunsets even more freely. Any day can be a good day to photograph a sunset. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing. I don’t need to devote an entire day to it. There doesn’t need to be some grand plan or adventure. No specific scenic destination required.

I like to silhouette trees against a sunset. Benezette, PA.

Look out the window. Is the sun setting? Does it look beautiful? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, grab your camera, go outside, and take pictures.

I try to keep a mental note of around what time the sunset has been setting lately. When it starts to get around that time of day, regardless of what I am doing I start to glance out the windows a little more. Just checking to see if the sunset is showing off outside today. If I see some potential for nice photographs then I stop what I am doing and go outside to take some photos.

The types of sunset photographs I create from home on most days are different from what I might try to create at other locations. At home I like to frame the image with the tops of the tree canopy along the bottom edges of the photograph. This allows me to maximize the amount of the frame that is showing off the colors of the sky and clouds.

Lately I really try to pay attention to sunsets right at home and photograph them.

Focus on the sky

In my sunset photography I really like to accentuate the sky and clouds over everything else in the scene. Most of the frame is the sky with just enough landscape at the edges to provide a little bit of context. I really try to take this to the next level when I have the opportunity to create a panoramic image.

I will take several frames in a row that overlap and then I stitch them together using Adobe Lightroom. This really allows me to create a skyline of colors and clouds. It almost becomes abstract art. On a good day I can create an image that shows a range of colors across the panoramic scene as the colors from the sunset emerge on one side of the image, intensify in the middle, and then fade off on the far edge of the image.

Don’t wait for just the right moment. Go outside and photograph the sunset tonight and every night.

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