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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Predicting 'good' sunsets
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01/20/2006 10:32:50 PM · #1
Are there any signs one should watch out for in the hours leading up to sunset which would identify a spectacular from a mediocre one?

For example, clouds high in the sky, or close to the horizon? - Haze or clear sky? - Changes in temperature?

Or is it a matter of just sitting there and being patient? :)
01/20/2006 10:35:10 PM · #2
partly cloudy is a good start.
01/20/2006 10:35:50 PM · #3
Dry summer days the dust in the sky helps reflect the setting sun.
01/20/2006 10:36:34 PM · #4
Many times I check the weather actually. If there is a storm rolling in, or the sun is supposed to break, I'll try to plan to get to a good spot.

Doesn't always work. But yeah, sometimes it's just being in the right spot at the right time.
01/20/2006 10:39:35 PM · #5
Looking through my port for a good example, I kind of found that most of them were just when I happened to be in a place to hop in the car and go get the pictures.

Take a gander.

Some of my favs like ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/263370.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/263370.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' were not sunsets, but in sunset light. So even if the clouds aren't on the horizon with the sun, you can still get interesting pics with partly cloudy skies I've found.

Message edited by author 2006-01-20 22:41:41.
01/20/2006 10:41:28 PM · #6
I am an absolute sunset ''junkie'' and if I have missed one, I've missed hundreds of great sunsets because you just can't predict them... or *gasp* you forget to have your camera with you that you carry around with you, oh EVERYDAY and you forget it that ONE day and it's the mother of all sunsets!!!!
Sorry....I had to ramble and vent for a moment...better now.
Heh...
01/20/2006 10:45:37 PM · #7
Originally posted by wavelength:

Looking through my port for a good example, I kind of found that most of them were just when I happened to be in a place to hop in the car and go get the pictures.

Take a gander.

I liked this one;

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/253204.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/253204.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

The reason I brought the subject up is because I was sure there was going to be a great sunset this evening and I waited for an hour only to see a smudge of red followed by grey.... :)

Other evenings I'm driving along and catch a glimpse of an unexpected colour-fest of oranges, pinks and reds in the rear-view mirror.

But, it indeed appears that luck has a lot to do with it.
01/20/2006 10:47:20 PM · #8
The "smog index" is very useful :-) The more aerial pollution, the more colorful the sunset as a rule. Low clouds blanketing the horizon usually mean lousy sunsets. High clouds make lovely sunsets. Low clouds in small sizes scudding under high ones can be great.

A sky like this in late afternoon should send you running to your nearest sunset vantage point:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/210944.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/210944.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

These are all low clouds, the color imapct is minimal. Not "lousy" because the horizon is clear, but...

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/263977.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/263977.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

With low clouds massing right across, you're doomed to minimal visual impact:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/278771.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/278771.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Very high clouds:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/255458.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/255458.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Low and high clouds:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/264746.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/264746.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Layering is good; high, higher, highest...

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/374/thumb/224736.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/374/thumb/224736.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Some of these are sunrises, of course, but same diff... Time to stop :-)

R.
01/20/2006 10:48:00 PM · #9
I find strato-cumulus or cirrus clouds usually do the best.

The former are like a layer of bumpy pillows, but not too thick and with "seams" or thinner spots.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/1031/thumb/15175.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/1031/thumb/15175.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

The latter are higher, usually wispy clouds.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/1031/thumb/39105.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/1031/thumb/39105.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/1031/thumb/44175.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/1031/thumb/44175.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Look for layering, with a clear area near the horizon so there will be room for the light to get through underneath.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/1031/thumb/55275.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/1031/thumb/55275.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

More examples here.
01/20/2006 10:48:23 PM · #10
That's still a very dramatic and ''memorable'' sunset! You'll remember the date and time you took it TOO!
01/20/2006 10:50:53 PM · #11
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

The "smog index" is very useful :-) The more aerial pollution, the more colorful the sunset as a rule. Low clouds blanketing the horizon usually mean lousy sunsets. High clouds make lovely sunsets. Low clouds in small sizes scudding under high ones can be great.

You beat me by 40 seconds!

An old friend once claimed that the most spectacular sunsets in the world were found in Gary, Indiana -- as he put it, the factory output produced "colors not found in nature." But that was a long time ago; I bet there's lots of places that polluted now ...
01/20/2006 10:51:05 PM · #12
Clouds add substance and colours to both sunrises and sunsets...

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11518/thumb/151607.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11518/thumb/151607.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11518/thumb/207013.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11518/thumb/207013.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11518/thumb/75226.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11518/thumb/75226.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11518/thumb/80136.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11518/thumb/80136.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/401/thumb/263787.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/401/thumb/263787.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
01/20/2006 10:52:47 PM · #13
Sometimes a clear sky can make for a good sunset too.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19184/thumb/74610.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19184/thumb/74610.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Not the best one in the world but I really like it. Anyway won't be taking any photos from that spot anytime soon. Hurricane Katrina decided to mess all that up. :(
01/20/2006 10:58:03 PM · #14
Looks like it's turned into a 'post your best sunset' thread :)

But some great examples and advice there. Thanks!

The tip about clouds low to the horizon 'blocking' the light makes sense.
01/20/2006 10:58:44 PM · #15
Originally posted by jhonan:

Are there any signs one should watch out for in the hours leading up to sunset which would identify a spectacular from a mediocre one?

For example, clouds high in the sky, or close to the horizon? - Haze or clear sky? - Changes in temperature?

Or is it a matter of just sitting there and being patient? :)


Watch the weather report; if tomorrow is going to be warmer then today then chances are there will be a reddish or even red sky at sunset. If tomorrow is supposed to have rain late in the day then sunrise may be what you are looking for. This was a sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge shot from NJ.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40819/thumb/245629.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40819/thumb/245629.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Find out what time the sun is setting and get there at least 45 minutes ahead, sometimes the sunset light is best a half hour or so before it sets.

Now here is a kicker which I have found is almost flawless, if there are cumulus clouds high in the sky chances are it is going to rain in about two days. If you catch the subset while it is between the horizon and the clouds it is breathtaking. In the words of John Denver "Fire in the sky."

Now sometimes the best sunsets are behind you. What I mean to say is, the sky opposite the sunset or to the east is also very colorful sometimes so don't forget to turn around.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40819/thumb/234396.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40819/thumb/234396.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

This image was taken about 10 minutes after the sunset, looking to the east. Not bad is it? See the reflection of the sunset is on the buildings and the eastern sky behind them. Well I liked it when I took it. BTW those are two other buildings Trump owns in NYC.

You can find out the times of Sunrise and Sunset also Moon rise and set Here

Good luck and let me know how you do.

01/20/2006 11:05:18 PM · #16
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11738/thumb/147316.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/11738/thumb/147316.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Clear beautiful day in late December. Temp was a bit high for the time of the year. Not a cloud in the sky. The image was taken after sunset.

Message edited by author 2006-01-21 08:06:31.
01/20/2006 11:12:46 PM · #17
As long as there are clouds and they do not not completely block the sky you should get a nice sunset. Dust, forest fires, and smog help. here are some of mine from various places. I have 100s more.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/374/thumb/226078.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/374/thumb/226078.jpg', '/') + 1) . 'New Mexico 05

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/352/thumb/195496.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/352/thumb/195496.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Kentucky 05

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/3569/thumb/96796.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/3569/thumb/96796.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' My backyard 04

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/3569/thumb/156546.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/3569/thumb/156546.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Florida 04

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/3569/thumb/36839.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/3569/thumb/36839.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Colorado 04

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/403/thumb/253946.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/403/thumb/253946.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Kansas 05
01/20/2006 11:46:25 PM · #18
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43437/thumb/280065.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43437/thumb/280065.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' I think this was at the airport here in town

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43437/thumb/281962.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43437/thumb/281962.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Sunrise going east into salt lake city early summer morning
01/21/2006 01:35:59 AM · #19
Here is one looking in the opposite direction of the sunset. I know this photo isn't very good compared to the others here, just trying to show you another effect that a sunset gives.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/429/thumb/275762.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/429/thumb/275762.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Message edited by author 2006-01-21 01:36:35.
01/21/2006 01:51:37 AM · #20
Originally posted by AFViper:

Here is one looking in the opposite direction of the sunset. I know this photo isn't very good compared to the others here, just trying to show you another effect that a sunset gives.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/429/thumb/275762.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/429/thumb/275762.jpg', '/') + 1) . '


Nice shot of an anticrepuscular ray! I've never been able to grab one yet.
01/21/2006 01:52:21 AM · #21
Yes, looking at other than straight-into-the-sun angles can be very effective; this one's at nearly right angles to the sunrise, which is to my left:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/274703.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/274703.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

R.
01/21/2006 02:18:24 AM · #22
Originally posted by jhonan:

Looks like it's turned into a 'post your best sunset' thread :)

Oh, has it? Well, ok then... :-)

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35321/thumb/270132.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35321/thumb/270132.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Nordlys
01/21/2006 03:30:02 AM · #23
Some of my best shots have come away from the actual sunset which has been less than spectacular. In this one there weren't any clouds, but there was a sort of a haze in the air from the ocean.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35545/thumb/280301.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35545/thumb/280301.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

This one is the same evening but 180 degrees away from the actual sunset.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35545/thumb/280300.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35545/thumb/280300.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
01/21/2006 05:20:21 AM · #24
A lot of my favorites have mostly clear skies above the horizon, so you get good gradients. Some here. And one after sunset here.
01/21/2006 08:02:47 AM · #25
Here in Florida it seems the best sunsets come between december and April. When it starts getting hotter the sunsets seem to not be as dramatic (possibly because of the shifting angle of the sun). I usually look for good thin cloud cover near the horizon but not extending too much beyond it. I think the best cloud type to look for is a lot of cirrus clouds (the high wispy ones).

Here is a shot I grabbed one day outside where I worked. I just had to make use of what was around at the time to make interest but I couldn't pass up such a beautiful sunset.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/48224/thumb/270346.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/48224/thumb/270346.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Message edited by author 2006-01-21 08:05:48.
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