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Thread: Best weather to predict good sunsets

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    brucehughw's Avatar
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    Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Hi,

    Can anyone comment on the type of weather most likely to produce a good sunset? I, of course, leave it to you to interpret "good" as you wish. Also, if you would like to share photos with time, date, and location, I could corroborate the image and the weather pattern that day.

    Thanks, Bruce

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    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    A sunset in a bare sky is dull. Look for days with intricately-textured clouds at high altitudes. That being said, it's hard to take a unique photo of just a sunset. Add in a foreground element, landscape, or take a photo of something/someone in sunset light, and you may find more interesting results.

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    HaseebM's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    A beach or lake if possible. My daughter took this with her mobile phone whilst on the beach. I borrowed this from indianastronomer. She also wrote some points connected with cloud movements etc.,

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Bruce,

    At the risk of being simplistic, sunsets are quite different from place to place as are the conditions which contribute to the sunset.

    We don't really have a large number of spectacular sunsets here in the San Diego area of Southern California because the sun sets into the Pacific Ocean and we frequently have a marine layer or slight fog bank right at the horizon. You will see what you expect to be a spectacular sunset only have it to disappear into that marine layer...

    We have some of our most spectacular sunsets in the fall months when there is a Santa Ana wind condition with the hot dry winds coming from the desert to the east of us. Unfortunately, the conditions which contribute to the most absolutely spectacular sunsets are when we have wildfires and the smoke is being blown out to sea. However, I always hate to see those wildfires and live in dread of the devastation they cause.

    I don't shoot sunsets or sunrises because I consider them pretty trite and overdone. However, I agree with Lex when he said that
    "A sunset in a bare sky is dull. Look for days with intricately-textured clouds at high altitudes. That being said, it's hard to take a unique photo of just a sunset. Add in a foreground element, landscape, or take a photo of something/someone in sunset light, and you may find more interesting results."
    I do occasionally like to shoot a person on the shore with the sun setting behind that person. Shooting with the longest lens possible and with your largest aperture will often produce a very large sun behind the subject. My 300mm lense at f/4 on my 1.6x format cameras are quite good for that purpose...

    Here are some interesting comments regarding sunset (sunrise) photography...
    http://improvephotography.com/416/30...t-photography/
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 25th July 2013 at 09:47 PM.

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    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    For a great sunset, or sunrise, you need clouds on or near the horizon and clear skies below the horizon line. That way you get the cloudbase underlit by the red rays of the sun as it sets and after. I use the Weather Network's online map to get a rough approximation of the sky cover beyond the horizon line in addition to the tool on this site for calculating the point where the sun rises and sets. Doesn't always work, last night was a prime example, but it removes some of the guesswork. If the cloud deck is solid to the east (sunrise) or west (sunset) then you can be sure it will be a complete bust. Scattered cloud, high probability of good results. Clouds over you and at the horizon with clear skies over the horizon: perfect.

    And be patient. Sometimes it can be as much as one half hour before or after sunset/sunrise to get something exceptional. This was taken twenty minutes before official sunrise.

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

    One guarantee: If it fails you still have had a nice walk. If it blooms into something brilliant; you get to take credit for your skill (and you've had a nice walk)

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    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    One more thing: As Richard indicated. The more filth and debris in the air the better the result.

    This was taken at the Solstice in June this year. The air was full of dust from an exceptionally dry and still week. Made for horrible daytime landscapes as the light was dull, diffused and dead at my usual preferred morning and evening times when the sun was low in the sky. However the sunsets were some compensation

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

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    HaseebM's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Wow, those are some stunning images of Sunset!

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    PRSearls's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    This may not be the normal idea of a sunset but sometimes other parts of the sky can be dramatic. I was lucky to get turkey vultures to fly into several shots of these clouds as they were circling home to roost for the night. They added the needed "foreground element" that Richard talked about. I guess my point is, keep looking around; there may be better photographic opportunities to the side or behind you.

    Paul S

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Hi Bruce

    As Lex and Trevor have said, high cloud with an intricate pattern, and little cloud beyond the horizon. This allows the scattered red light from the sun to light up the underside of the cloud (a bit after sunset or a bit before sunrise).

    The hard part is to predict these weather conditions and be in the right spot for a decent shot with an interesting foreground. It might help if you were a meteorologist ! This is why I find sunrise/sunset photography rewarding but very frustrating. The other thing too is that the cloud patterns can change so rapidly and what looks like promising conditions prior to sunset can just dissipate before sunset occurs.

    And yes, views other than directly into the sunset can work well too.

    Dave

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Bruce: you can not rely on weather charts and patterns, you have to go out, observe and learn. A lot of the time you will get a great sun rise/set from one location yet 1 mile away "crap". Sometimes I get a great shot with no clouds where the sun is but instead 180 degrees from the sun that it where the clouds are and the sun lights them up from below. The key to a good sun rise/set shot is to know your location, where the sun will be, time it will be there and direction of rise/set, set watch the sky during the day, rise know how the weather systems are moving and bringing, and above all pray to the sky gods to give you the type of sky you want. Some of my best shots, I have pulled over if possible as I have seen the sky setting up and I know that it is going to happen in the next few minutes so I carry my camera with me all the time. Also a number of times, if you think it is over wait longer that is when all others have left that the shot appears, same for mornings just get there up to 45 minutes plus it happens and you may get surprised.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    I would never count on meteorological prognostications because they are seldom site specific. I use a very old fashioned method; I look up, then walk down to the water, wait and observe. It's hit and miss but I'm going to have better luck doing the aforementioned than relying on 'weather people' to inform me.

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Quote Originally Posted by brucehughw View Post
    Hi,

    Can anyone comment on the type of weather most likely to produce a good sunset? I, of course, leave it to you to interpret "good" as you wish. Also, if you would like to share photos with time, date, and location, I could corroborate the image and the weather pattern that day.

    Thanks, Bruce
    Thunderstorms in the afternoon seem to produce great skys at sunset!
    Best weather to predict good sunsets

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

    I find it is usually the time just after sunset that gives the best results.

    This started out as a clear sky but near an airport so filled with fine vapour trails which disperse to provide these thin "clouds".

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    brucehughw's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    To all who responded,

    Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge and images on this topic. Those who live near the water or other suitable location are fortunate in that they have ready access to good sunsets without having to spend time getting to a good location. I posted this question because I'm trying to figure out which conditions are most favorable for colorful skies. Knowing this, I'll make more informed decisions regarding travel plans on a given evening. Seems like there's a mix of luck and meteorology involved. If anyone would like to continue this topic (via the thread or private emails), I'd enjoy continuing it.

    Bruce

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Hi, Bruce. I am currently trying to get a better handle on what predictors we might have of fog. I have to drive about 90 minutes to get to my usual stomping grounds so I don't want to waste the drive. Local forecasters have little to say about it, in general, so I am looking to using ambient temps, humidity, dew points, and wind speed to predict. I'm getting better, but other factors seem to influence as well.

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    The most spectacular sunsets are associated with bad weather, coming and going but it can be very time specific, very hit-or-miss. Both these sunsets were taken looking over conservation land on the east bank of the Sudbury, not far west of Boston.

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

    The first photo was taken in 2005 as the clouds were breaking up after a vigorous storm. Coolpix 5700

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

    The second was taken in 2013 the evening before Nemo clobbered us. D600

    Aside from having a camera with me, I wasn't prepared for such florid conditions. In fact, the Nemo evening developed in less than ten minutes and peaked for perhaps thirty seconds. Talk about f/8 and be there!

    And then there are the golden days of summer - not superb for sunset views but, for long hours of golden light, oh my. Same field, 2009. The pose lasted 10 seconds, tops. D300

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    The more filth and debris in the air the better the result.
    That is no joke!

    Johannesburg city air. Cloudless sky.

    Best weather to predict good sunsets

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    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    That is no joke!

    Johannesburg city air. Cloudless sky.

    Best weather to predict good sunsets
    The particulates make for great sunrise and sunset photography, however I have always felt it probably isn't a good idea to breathe something you can see

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    Tringa's Avatar
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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    The only things I'd add to the good advice here are download this

    http://photoephemeris.com/

    It is free for PCs and Macs but costs for mobile devices. It shows the time and direction of sunset (and rise) for any day, anywhere on Earth.

    By itself it is pretty good in helping to research and choose possible locations for sunset (rise) shots. When combined with a local detailed map, which can show potential interesting features eg buildings, roads, lakes, harbours, hills etc that may provide interesting foregrounds or lead in lines for a shot.

    Always leave yourself plenty of time to get to a location. The Earth turns very quickly and in next to no time the shot can be lost.

    Dave

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    Re: Best weather to predict good sunsets

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    This started out as a clear sky but near an airport so filled with fine vapour trails which disperse to provide these thin "clouds".
    Those vapour trails are actually "Chem Trails" or chemical trails. The CIA has instituted a policy of undermining civil behavior by misting cities with LSD.

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