Many of the most popular photographs include a sunset. Do an internet search for sunsets and there are many choices of sunset pictures to choose from. We have many choices for viewing sunsets. Many businesses are centered around these from sunset cruises to the best places to see a setting sun. Often on a trip to a national park I search for the best day and place to photograph a sunset. While taking this video of all the people joined together to celebrate the sunset got me wondering ‘why?’. In an effort to find out I did a search for why are sunsets so popular. Guess what I found. Yep, a lot of links for sunset photographs, how to take sunset photographs, places to view a sunset, and sunset excursions. Not much information on why we enjoy doing all of these things. So I’ll give you my thoughts and opinions on the subject.
First of all I believe sunsets are important just because of the spectacular colors they present. These colors are not found anywhere else in nature together at one time. As the sun sets these colors constantly evolve from one color to another over a period of minutes. This whole explosion of colors occur over only a few minutes each day. This is likely another reason we take time to view a great sunset. They only occur over a few minute period of time on the days where the sun is shining. And better yet the best pictures include the right mix of clouds on the horizon and sun peaking through those clouds. Days when this occurs are even rarer.
Another reason sunsets are so enjoyed is the psychological meaning behind the setting sun. This signifies the end of a day. A time to spend a few moments to reflect on the accomplishments of that day. What you did or didn’t do. What you witnessed and the memories that were made that day. This is a transition from the animals of the daytime retreating to their shelters for a safe evening of sleep and the creatures of the night beginning to prowl. If you ever have the opportunity to go out into the quiet wilderness just before sunset it is amazing all of the activity that is going on around you as the animals prepare for the night. Yes, this is also a metaphor for people as well. The daytime events and the night creatures we become. This end of the day also allows for reflections on the promise of tomorrow as the sun rises once again.
While a sun rise is not nearly as celebrated it can provide just as spectacular of scenery to be captured in a photograph or your memory. I like to witness the rising sun even more than a sunset because it signifies the beginning of the day and the promise of all that you are capable of doing in that day. Why do you enjoy the setting sun?
*All of these photos are the way they were photographed. There has not been any digital enhancements done to improve these photos. If you can believe it these photos were taken with 3 different cameras – an HD video camera, a digital photo camera, and a cell phone camera. Can you tell me which cameras took which photos? I can’t tell unless I look at the meta data.