Recently, I was visiting Kiawah Island with my family. We generally visit a couple times a year to unwind and take in nature. I always explain Kiawah as the beach meets camping because the houses are all in what I would call a forest. There is bountiful nature, sometimes too much (I’m talking to you spiders), and very little commercial development. But I digress, I want to talk to you about why I think shooting sunsets is sometimes a mistake.
The image above was taken during sunset but not towards where the sun was actually setting. In fact, it was taken in the opposite direction of where the sun was setting. The funny thing is that I can remember everyone having dinner on the porch had dropped their forks, set down their drinks, and picked up their camera phones to take a photograph of the especially beautiful sunset. That’s precisely when I grabbed my Leica, politely excused myself from our table, and hopped over the porch railing to jog about a football field’s length away.
Now, I’m not going to claim I’m some sort of photography savant here and knew that the view opposite of where the sun was setting was better… I will say that I have enough experience to know that if the sunset is especially beautiful I had better kick into overdrive and shoot all my angles if and when possible. Though I didn’t know the view looking away from the sunset would be better, I knew that the beautiful sunset meant there was a chance there was more going on than what I saw… Hence the leap (pun intended) of faith.
So, next time you set up your tripod facing sunset with the idea that you’ll just have a relaxing evening photographing the gradual decline of the gassy globe… Think again. I almost feel guilty writing this article because I too once felt that landscape photography was great because it was so cathartic. Perhaps it’s the street photographer in me, always looking for another angle, that ruins the meditative qualities of landscape photography. Sorry and you’re welcome?
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