Other than 'selfies', sunsets are probably one of the most popular subjects of photos posted on social media. It's no surprise, really. There is a sunset every day. Of course, some days are cloudy and other times the sunset just isn't all that interesting. But on the evenings when there are a few clouds in the sky, or the horizon lights up with spectacular color, a sunset can be a sight to behold. Often when the drama is unfolding in the western sky, we reach for whatever camera is available (usually the cell phone) and snap a shot in an attempt to show the beauty that our eyes are seeing. The amazing beauty of a sunset lends itself well to images made by people with a variety of cameras all over the world.
It can be challenging to capture a good image of a sunset. Most of the time, the images that are created just don't quite measure up to the scene that was before our eyes that caused us to reach for the camera in the first place. Our eyes have no problem adjusting to the brighter portion of the sky above the horizon while also seeing into the shadows of the terrain below. The camera has a more difficult time of capturing the full dynamic range, and sometimes the amazing colors can be spoiled by an overexposed sky or the foreground can be in complete blackness. However, since the main subject is the sun, clouds, and color in the sky, exposing for those things and forgetting about the foreground will likely give us what we were looking for anyway. Sometimes that's the only choice.
The first sunset image I made last year was on January 10, at 5:10 PM. My main objective was to just get outside and take some pictures, to fine tune my knowledge of the camera settings and understanding of composition. There was nothing spectacular about the sunset that evening. A few wispy clouds made some nice color and the foreground certainly wasn't anything special. It's no award-winning image, for sure. None of these are, but that's not really the point. The next sunset image wasn't until January 28. By the time I took a third sunset image, on February 4, the idea came to mind to make a year-long project out of shooting sunsets. My thinking was that this would give me something to shoot for every day and would also help me to continue practicing my technique and become more familiar with the camera's controls. So began the sunset project of 2015, and what probably seemed to some like an endless stream of sunset photos posted to my Facebook timeline.
I ended up shooting sunsets a total of 83 days last year. The most productive months were April, with a total of 17 sunset shoots, followed closely by February, with 15. There was only 1 in June and 2 in July, October, and November. Sometimes, it just kind of happens that way. There were many evenings of freezing hands in the winter months or battling mosquitos in the summer, but it was worth it. The opening image is a collage of my favorite image from each sunset shoot. Most of these were taken right in our 'back yard', making it even more of a challenge to make something interesting in an all too familiar setting. Hopefully, I succeeded and you like a few of them. Some of my favorites are below for you click on to see larger. Enjoy!