The only rule that you really have to follow is be out there!
Everything after that depends on what you want to see or do.
There really isn’t a bad sunset, some are just more spectacular than others!
WARNING! You may find this post very image heavy. These images may cause an addiction for Waiting for sunsets! 🙂
Taking pictures of sunsets has some serious risks involved because looking into the sun can quickly damage your eyes. Personally I tend to let the auto focus of the camera do the work and then look at the captured image to see if I like it. There are certin atmospheric phenomena that really enhance the experience but you must always shoot with caution!
As sad as the major forest fires we have had in the last couple of years one of the plus sides is the atmospheric phenomenon that occurs. What the smoke particles in the atmosphere create is a filter effect of the sun and during sunsets it makes for stunning photograph opportunities. Many of the shots in this blog have taken advantage of this effect.
What really got me started on my sunset journey was a 2003 canoe trip with some friends north of Massey Ontario. This was shot was from our first small digital camera when digital was starting to blast past film and up to this point I was still very much into slides & film. What happend was eye candy! Finding out later that it was the tail end of hurricane that created the atmospheric conditons for this sunset was just as intriguing as seeing the sunset, and something we have searched out on all our trips.
Just so you know, sunsets are not just the short period of time where the sun disappears over the horizon. It is also the time before, known to many photographers as the “Golden hour” and the twilight time that encompasses you after sundown, and if everything aligns then you could be in for an amazing show!
If you are wondering if you have to go to exotic locations you can rest easy! You can watch sunsets anywhere, most of the sunsets in this blog are from Ontario Parks but there are a few surprises thrown in to the mix. 😉
The featured image at the top of this edition is the newest to our exotic sunset photographs. It was taken on February 8, 2020 @ Sunset Point, MacGregor Point Provincial Park, great location, beautiful colours and a sun pillar to wrap things up. Whats not to like when the temp is -9c 🙂 but we did have the entire point to ourselves!
Here is a quick time lapse of what we saw. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuN7dhTynPc
Most of the time it is pretty easy, just sit back and enjoy from whatever location you choose.
Ok, so sometimes it can be a little tough and can take a little planning and sometimes a lot of luck like this shot from January 10, 2007.
Comet McNaught, from Kelso Conservation Area, Milton, On. I had just a short time between snow squalls and clouds, and then there is just getting the chance to even shoot a comet that is naked eye visible that made it such a lucky capture.
Sometimes amazing sunsets just happen, and you have to stop and soak them in. Anne and I were on our way home from Northern Ontario when this happened. This from Smith Marine on the Pickerel River @ HWY 69. Photo was taken from the snowmobile trail bridge.
Ok, so for photographing a sunset it is not quite that simple sometimes. 🙂
It is easy enough to find out the times when the sun will set in the location you are at, but waiting and hoping for “stuff” to happen, well that is part of the fun and frustration of shooting sunsets.
The higher the latitude on the earth, the more time you will have to prep. In places like Iceland (the land of eye candy) sunsets can last a long, long time. The hard part can be the quickly changing weather and even harder which spectacular landscape do you want to shoot.
Newfoundland & Labrador are very similar with long sunsets, so lots of time to get ready, but again the hardest part is choosing where do you actually shoot from.
I have to admit we have been very lucky and “stuff” happens 😉
So yes location can make a huge difference, our shots come from a variety of locations, some by paddle, some from hiking and some from areas very close to where we were camping while on road trips.
For very popular areas it can be really tough. The trick is get there early, set up your chairs and cameras and wait, but that too can give you lots of different photo opportunities while you watch. A bigger problem is that if you move you could easily lose your spot, and no this lovely couple did not move in, it is my daughter and her boyfriend who quickly tired of me taking photos as the sun painted them in a beautiful gold colour. 😉
Even in popular parks like Killbear there are places to go to get away from the crowds.
Yes a canoe/kayak can get you to amazing spots.
The sunset light can really soften up a view and make an area feel much warmer.
Before we go to some more Ontario sunsets here are some from other places just to wet your appetite for your new hobby 🙂
For the Sea Caves of St. Martins we were super lucky that high tide coincided with sunset on this visit. At low tide there is no paddling to this point and it can be a very busy.
If you are unsure of your paddle skills or need some local intel on the area the great people at Red Rock Adventures right in St. Martins https://www.bayoffundyadventures.com
You can go on one of their guided paddle tours or just get the info you need to get out there, they made our visit very easy to make it safer.
The sunset that night was quite plesant but the softer light really brought the caves and cliffs of the quaint Bay of Fundy town.
Just because you can not see a good horizon does not mean you can not shoot in the Golden Hour of sunset. As the sun gets lower out of your site the light can reflect off the clouds above you and softly illuminate areas helping to naturally remove shadows as what occured when I shot this little side falls at Chutes Prov. Park.
The biggest trouble with not having a view of the horizon is that “stuff” can happen very fast and it usually does not last very long, so always have your camera ready!
Something that Anne and I both like to do is wait for that special twilight time. In a busy area you will probably find that most people will leave as soon as the sun goes over the horizon or a cloud bank blocks the sun. Yes, photography does become a little harder but the advances in phone camera technology are making even this much easier, especially if you use a tripod. If you do you will find yourself rewarded with some great photos and eye candy.
The more you go out, the more you will be rewarded with great views!
Last summer we were treated to a sunset I have only seen in magazine images or on nature shows. An Etruscan Vase or “Omega” sunset.
The smoke in the atmosphere created a beautiful filters so that when the sun was still high it was easily visible and not washed out by what would be the nomal bright yellow of the sun. It was an amazing show to watch, we knew it was special and had no idea what it was. When we got back to camp we googled “lava lamp sunset” and the answer popped up! 🙂
Hopefully this will inspire some others to go out and enjoy some great Canadian sunsets!
Whether on a canoe trip or a travel trip we always look for some “good” spots so we can sit back and enjoy the show.
Sometimes it is work, sometimes it is a surprise, but they are all great.
Just so you know the more sunsets you sit and wait for, the more you will enjoy it and look forward to the next opportunity to see the next one.
Below are some links to what I use to help find those atmospheric conditons and how I sometimes scout things out on my paddle trips.
Link to my photo shoot trip report From June 2016 https://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=108&t=45055
Spaceweather.com a great site period to help keep you informed of various conditions. https://spaceweather.com
I like this site for sun/moon rise/set it helps get me some good settings on were things will be when I shoot . You can set the location so your timings will be more accurate. https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/canada/milton