Photo diary 50/365 Sunset Photography ... Cliche or Essential

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Photograph sunset on a dry anthriscus sylvestris by Papanikolaou Joanna on 500px
sunset on a dry anthriscus sylvestris 
by Papanikolaou Joanna on 500px
If there was a possibility of counting sunset and sunrise photos since photography beginning and add in them all the known paintings with the same theme, surely the result would have many zeros behind it. The forty-four sunsets that the Little Prince had counted in one day in the famous book of Antoine de Saint-Exupery is something that happens to us every day through art and photography... Sunsets and sunrises are one of the most common subjects in art and photography. 

The American artist and photographer Catherine Opie had said that the biggest cliche in photography is sunset and sunriseReading this sentence from an artist without knowing more of her work, one would logically assume that she never captured one sunset. 

On the contrary, her "Twelve miles on the horizon Sunset and sunrise" documents are created in the artist's journey on a Hanjin cargo vessel as it travelled across the Pacific Ocean, from Korea to California. Opie photographed each sunrise and each sunset whilst living on board the ship for the 11 days. Her work was presented in several pairs of sunrise and sunset photographs.

So, how true is that? No one can resist capturing a blissful sunset or the warm golden light of a sunrise. Maybe some stock photography sites can, since they include in their guidelines that they don't need other sunset photos. Yet, in their most popular nature photos there are definitely some flawless sunsets, some of them as lonely scapes and other as happy scenes with 'holding hands'. Even the famous director George Lucas has talked about the power of a sunset: "If the boy and girl walk off into the sunset hand-in-hand in the last scene, it adds 10 million to the box office". 

Cliche or not, sunsets and sunrises with their dramatic lighting can create unforgettable images. Although the phenomenon is repeated with certainty everyday, the sun rises and sets almost with the same way, what is dramatized in front of the sinking sun, it is unique and unrepeatable. That's why the first thing I do is to search some intrigue points of interest and combine them with a story and a strong title.

The other important factor is to manage capturing the light and the colors as they are and not how my camera wants to interpret it. 
--- Always I photoshoot raw to store all the precious information. 
--- I turn off the auto white balance and experiment in different adjustments.
--- I photoshoot in different exposures. Sometimes I underexposure and overexposure the same scene focusing in different points and then add them for larger depth.
--- I always see the result on my pc screen and check out the histogram. All the weaknesses of my photos are hidden there. I correct exposure to succeed a better result.

Some valuable links to "dive into" sunset photography

Sunset Photography: how to balance exposures and get accurate colours on

• 30 Sunset Photography Tips on 

2 Tips for Stunning Photography by Darren Rowse on

Shooting Spectacular Sunrises and Sunsets on

And, if your curiosity goes further of the photographic paths, you can read this interview of Stephen Corfidi, metereologist and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in National Geographic. You can find there some interesting information about the science of sunset

This endless interest for capturing sunsets and sunrises maybe comes from the beauty of its light and colors, or maybe has a deeper symbolic meaning about the end and the beginning; the hope that the eternal circle of life will never stop. Yet, this phenomenon and theme will always attract me with a mystical way; just stop anything else and wonder on its rich light...