Photographing the Setting Sun

(if the image above doesn’t show a short looping animation, try clicking on it)

Winter is the best for me to try and catch a green flash as the sun drops below the horizon. Most of the year, the sun drops behind Kruzof Island (or even north of that) and so is not visible as it falls below the horizon, but for a month or two on either side of the winter solstice, the sun sets more towards the southwest, which is out towards Sitka sound from the perspective of the downtown area. My preferred spot to watch from is the top of O’Connell bridge, as it offers the most accessible unimpeded view of the horizon, as it’s high enough to see over intervening islands that otherwise might obscure the view.

I try to take care not to look directly at the sun (thank goodness for autofocus) and usually wait to start taking pictures until it’s at least halfway across the horizon. Unfortunately I have yet to really see a green flash, but it’s still fun to try. On a clear February day earlier this year I was headed home from class just before sunset and decided to spend a few minutes and see if it would be my lucky day. During the last few moments of direct sunlight, I shot 20 or more photos in bursts of 3 or 4. Alas, there was no green flash on this day, but it was a nice sunset all the same.

When I was processing the images, I realized I could make a time-lapse sort of sequence out of a subset. Unfortunately I did not have the camera setup on a tripod, so I had to do some strategic cropping with the goal of aligning things is well as I could. In the end I created a looping animated gif of the last light of the sun. If you click on the image at the top of the post, it should load up (hopefully).

Just after sunset looking out over Sitka Sound

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