Travel Photo Thursday: Winter Sunsets

Travel Photo Thursday: Winter Sunsets

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Ask most people when sunsets are most dramatic and they would probably say “Summer.”

But what often makes a sunset worth photographing is not the sun itself, but the nature and extent of clouds in the sky as the sun goes down.

And that’s why in Northern California where I live and where summer skies are often cloud-free, winter is often the best time of the year to capture intense images of the sun sinking in the west.

At the end of December I spent two days roaming through the waterfowl wildlife refuges in the Northern Sacramento Valley. A large cloud formation tilted upward over the landscape of nearby marshes and the far away mountains to the west.

I pulled off the highway from time to as I drove westward across the valley and captured these sunset photos as dusk deepened.

Flooded rice fields provided food for the migrating ducks and geese and a watery foreground for some of my photos. At first the overhanging clouds were a dense, gray mat, allowing little sunshine to escape from behind them.

But once the sun dropped below the stratus layer, the underside of the clouds turned the color of fresh blood, looking like a rippled sea of scarlet floating overhead.

Finally, as the sun dropped below the mountainous horizon to the west, the sky separated into zones of crimson clouds and yellow-tinged clear sky.

(For more on photographing sunsets, see our Travel Photo Thursday stories “Shooting Hawaii’s Sinking Sunand “’On Golden Pond’ Sunset Shots.”)

(Click on an image to enlarge to full-size. Visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more of this week’s Travel Photo Thursday shots.)

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5 Replies to “Travel Photo Thursday: Winter Sunsets”

  1. Beautiful photos here! We have been having some of the most amazing sunsets (when the clouds aren’t covering, which isn’t often) this winter in the Seattle area as well.

  2. Yes, I live in the tropics and I have noticed clouds are needed for dramatic sunsets. The different colours as time goes on makes it look like a totally different sunset to that of 5 minutes ago. You have captured this perfectly.

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