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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Boring Sunsets on the Crystal Coast?

That of course is a trick question. I actually spend a lot of time each year chasing sunsets, and my wife is usually a willing participant in the game. Whenever possible we are near one of my favorite sunset spots in late afternoon just as sun starts dropping towards the horizon. Sometimes we have hiked to a special spot like the pier at Emerald Woods Park. Other times we might be sitting near the boat ramp in Cedar Point at the Croatan National Park access point. It is not unusual to find us actually out on one of the Tideland Trails waiting for a sunset. My favorite sunsets come when I am sitting in my kayak in the White Oak River with the whole river to myself. I doubt that I have ever seen a boring sunset.
There is something special about watching a sunset. It is far more than the end of a day, it is actually the hope of tomorrow that most of us see in a sunset. So many times I will get to one of my sunset spots only to find a couple sitting in the warmth of the dropping sun. Sometimes they are enjoying glasses of wine, and other times they are just holding hands.

Obviously a sunset is not a static moment, and the best sunsets are more like short movies on really big screens with colors that are very hard to duplicate. It is not unusual for the most vivid part of the light show to take place after the sunset. Sometimes the sunsets are so spectacular that it almost seems like the world is coming to an end. Actually I have given one of the sunset pictures that I took from Emerald Woods Park the title of "The End." It reminds me of the end of great movie.

Not all sunsets bring warmth. I have taken some frozen sunset pictures in the winter out on the Point at Emerald Isle. At least I am seriously cold by the time I get back to the car. The clarity of the air in the winter can enhance the beauty of the sunsets, but those winter breezes can limit the time out on the Point.

Surprisingly the best sunsets often come when there are at least a few clouds on the horizon. The clouds can make or break a sunset. Sometimes the sun just drops behind a bank of clouds, and there is no sunset. Other times the sunlight is filtered by clouds and makes for fantastic colors.

A direct sunlight picture without clouds to dampen the light is very hard to capture. Sometimes I will put a tree branch between my camera and most of the sun. There are times when you can take one hundred pictures, and none of them turn out to be a real keeper. Then there are times when all the elements work in your favor, and the sun lets you capture its glory.

Here is a web collection of area photos which includes some of my favorite sunsets over the last year.

I enjoy sharing my pictures, but there are times especially on some of the wide stretches of beach when I find myself hypnotized by the moment. I can snap the pictures but eventually I am magically attached to the spot. I remember once last summer, after taking a few pictures, I almost fell into a trance sitting on a bench with my eyes closed, enjoying the warmth of the summer sun on my face and the light ocean breezes rustling around me. Here is a sunset near the Point from last summer. The picture was taken not far from that bench.

The sounds of the waves, the heat of the sun, the color of the sky, and the reflected beauty on the water continue to pull me towards evening sunsets.

Watching sunsets is one of the great participatory sports on the Crystal Coast, all are welcome to join in. The good news is there are plenty of spots. But there is always the chance that you might see someone with two or three cameras peering into the sun. It could be me.

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