Reader Photo Challenge assignment: Sunsets

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Who doesn’t love a good sunset? Not me, I love them. Who can resist the warm colors spread across the sky at the end of the day? Not many. That’s why the newest Readers Photo Challenge assignment is “sunsets.”

With the coming of daylight saving time, fall is a great time for photographing sunsets with the end of daylight come earlier in the day, around 6:00 p.m. or so. That means one doesn’t have to stay up near their bedtime (or in my middle-aged case past their bedtime).

To me, the best sunsets are ones with cloudy skies. The clouds can absorb the reds, pinks and oranges of the sinking sun and spread its color across the sky. The flipside is that if the cloud cover is too heavy it can block all light and ruin your view of the sunset.

Sunsets can be good backdrops for photographing people. Due to the difference in light intensity between the sunset and your subject you’re likely to get a silhouetting of your subject, which could make for a bold photographing statement. If you want to see the face of your subject and get the sunset at the same time there a couple of things you can do. First is that you can use a flash to fill-in the shadow side of your subject and bring the exposure of the two scenes (subject and background) closer together. Secondly, as the sun goes below the horizon the amount of light in the sky naturally decreases. At a certain point it comes closer to amount of ambient light on the ground and you might get both subject and sunset in the same photo without the flash. This can be tricky because the time when both exposures are aligned is short. Also, you may lose the color in the sky before the exposures equalize.

Patience is the key with sunsets. Don’t be too hasty. One may think they got a nice shot, pack up their equipment to leave, and find that the colors got even more intense or clouds had moved to a better position. A mediocre sunset may turn into a good one and a good one may often turn great even as the sun settles below the horizon. You just have to wait it out until all color fades from view.

How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to Type in “Sunset” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between Nov 5. and Nov. 19. They can be of any subject but they must be taken during sunset and incorporate light from the sunset.

3. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (ie: “John Doe, Stockton. Pool Station Road and Highway 49, San Andreas. Canon EOS Rebel Ti with 18-55mm lens”)

4. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos.

5. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

6. The deadline for submission is Thursday, Nov. 19. The top examples will be published on Thursday, Nov. 26 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day.

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