I’ve devised a system for rating how photogenic a sunset or sunrise was. I’m calling it the JH Sundex. It goes from 0-10. The JH Sundex will measure how much light ,color and texture there is in a given sunrise or sunset. It’s totally subjective.Using the JH Sundex as a guide, you can rate your own photos, or blast out a heads up about a super sunset/rise. Tonight I saw a sunset that was a mid to high 8 on the JH Sundex. There was plenty of light, color and texture. It was amazing.
I’m thinking that with this system, 10 will be an ideal. Unattainable. The highest levels will be factors of 9. I will have to flesh it out a bit more with examples.
I’ll use the photo up top as my first example. I’ll look at four factors: Composition, light, color and texture.
The photo has an okay composition, but it’s not that great. However, the light color and texture are spectacular. I believe this sunset came about due to standing wave clouds near Mt.Iwate, so due to the rarity of the event and all the elements put together, I would probably give it a 7.8 or 7.9 on the JH Sundex.
©2012 Jason Hill
We are getting closer to the earliest sunset of the year. November 23 is what I like to call the “One month pit.” What I mean by this, is that on November 23, the sun will set at 4:14pm (setting earlier the next day), then one month later it will set again at 4:14pm (setting later the next day). In my area the earliest sunset will be on December 2 at 4:10pm and stay that way until December 13. During this month of darkness, it’s almost impossible for me to do any photography after work since it’s pitch black when I’m finished. I usually have to wait until early March until I can get any after work photography done.
One thing you should keep in mind is that the earliest sunset of the year is earlier than the solstice, which in my case is December 21, and due to the geometry of our orbit and how we measure time compared to this, it’s usually about two weeks earlier than solstice. This time is also different depending on your time zone and what latitude you live in. I use the iPhone app “Darkness” to figure this out. If you are a photographer and you want to take advantage of that “golden light”, you should start to learn about when the sun sets and rises in your area. It will help you in planning for your shoots.
For a better explanation, check out this article on Earth Sky for more info. Here is a loose order of events:
[Earliest Sunset – Winter Solstice – Latest Sunrise]
There is usally a two-week gap between all them, but it really depends on where you live.
Windy Iwate Mountain, originally uploaded by jasohill.
To start this off I present you the first picture of Iwate Mountain I took this year. As you can see, it’s fairly windy up near the top, where the snow is being blasted off the side of the mountain. I went on a twenty minute drive to find the best shot for this. The entire time, I was worried the winds were going to die down. Lucky for me, they actually got stronger. This is why they don’t recommend you climb this sucker in the winter.