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Feb 02, 2021
Albert Mountain Sunset is definitely one of my Top 5 Sunset Photos of all time!
I'm so fortunate to travel all over the United States and photograph amazing sunsets wherever I go. And I love every single sunset photo in my online gallery — but I do have some favorites that I continue to return to time and time again.
So here are my Top 5 favorite sunsets of all time (at least as of February 2021)!
I was banging around South Louisiana in 2018 with buddy and fellow photographer Tim Stanley, and we decided to head to the wonderful Lake Martin in the heart of Acadiana in hopes of getting some bird photos at the huge rookery there.
Unfortunately, the birds were so far into the swamp that we couldn't get clear views. So we decided to set up on a small peninsula for sunset. It wasn't very promising, with just a few light clouds in the sky. In fact, Tim kept saying we were going to go home empty handed.
However, a nice batch of clouds blew across the sky just after the sun fell below the horizon, picking up some nice color to silhouette those wonderful cypress trees.
I chose a neutral density filter to cut the amount of light hitting my camera's sensor, which allowed me to slow the shutter speed enough to make it appear the clouds were dragged across the sky. It also created that silky smooth water.
Tim and I couldn't stop grinning as we loaded up our gear to head back to the house.
I finished up a Bassmaster event in the South Carolina Lowcountry in October 2020 and headed out for the amazing Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Watching the sunset from Clingman's Dome is almost obligatory, so I headed straight up to the peak.
There are always crowds for sunset, especially in October, but I was fortunate enough to get find a parking spot and stake out a great spot. It was then a waiting game.
Not a cloud marred the blue sky, which normally heralds a colorless sunset. However, I stayed my ground and waited.
My patience was rewarded as the sun began moving below the farthest ridge. A haze hanging over the Smoky Mountains exploded in garish colors, and the mountain ridges were turned hazy silhouettes.
The result was this iconic Smoky Mountains sunset photo!
To top off the experience, I slept in my mini camper right there in the parking lot, enjoying a wonderful night at the highest point in one of my favorite national parks!
I had a couple of days to kill in Oklahoma before another Bassmaster Elite Series, so I decided to drive as much of the old Route 66 as possible. I made it all the way to little Hydro, but I was about 20 minutes away from the historic Lucille's Service Station when sunset began.
I hightailed it, running the old Mother Road at speeds law enforcement would frown upon. I just knew I would miss my opportunity.
However, there was still some beautiful light on the horizon as I literally skidded to a stop in the parking lot of the old service station.
And sitting in a truck just on the other side of the cool building was a cop — looking at me like I had lost my mind.
Yep, I was certain I had a speeding ticket in my near future.
But I hopped out, ran to the back of my truck and grabbed my tripod and camera bag. Figured he could write the ticket while I worked.
Instead, the cop cranked up his truck and drove away.
With that out of my mind, I set up my camera, grabbed an LED panel to light up the building and created this amazing sunset photo of an iconic Route 66 stop!
My wife and I were on our first stay in the Nantahala Mountains back in 2019, camping at the wonderful Standing Indian Campground, when someone told us the Albert Mountain Fire Tower was one of the best locations from which to watch the sunset.
So on our last evening at the campground, we decided to head up to the fire tower to enjoy what promised to be a great sunset. Dust from the Sahara Desert had blown in, and the skies had been hazy all week - and the sky had plenty of beautiful clouds that afternoon.
We parked at the trail head and made the 15-minute walk to the fire tower, and then climbed to uppermost landing. I set up my tripod, and we enjoyed a wonderfully peaceful time just looking out over the mountains and chatting about our trip.
Finally, the sun began its descent through the clouds — and as it moved closer to the horizon the haze seemed to catch fire. The sky exploded in orange, and the sun was a perfect ball of light through that Saharan dust.
It was simply amazing! And to have enjoyed it with my wife pushed it to one of my favorite sunsets of all time.
My first visit to South Dakota in 2018 was a life-altering trip. I was working with Bassmaster at Lake Oahe, and the quality of the light was just amazing. Every sunrise and sunset was just stunning.
I was chatting about the beauty of the sunsets with one of the owners of the lodge at which our team was staying, and he offered to take me to a special place on his family's ranch for that evening's visual festivities.
Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. We were soon bouncing through a pasture heading for the shores of Lake Oahe.
When we stopped, he got out and pointed out a group of rocks that were remnants of an old Native American fire ring. Wow!
It took some time for me to realize I couldn't get the entire ring in the photo, so I chose two of the largest rocks to help anchor the image.
And then we waited for the sun to start lighting up the sky. The mosquitoes were horrendous, and my new buddy soon retreated to his truck. I'm a South Louisiana boy, so I'm sorta used to swatting at those blood suckers, so I held my ground.
And then the magic began. The setting sun kissed the horizon, and I was ready. By using a small aperture setting in my camera, I created the starburst effect. The sun did the rest, throwing some of the most amazing light across the bottoms of the clouds.
It was at that moment that I realized just how little of the United States I had seen. I made the commitment to visit all of the national parks in the continental U.S. before I died, and I've added at least one park to my list every year since.
A life-altering sunset, indeed!
I was determined to capture the first 2021 sunrise and sunset over the Louisiana swamp, and a visit by buddy Tim Stanley set the plan in motion.
We first caught an amazing sunrise over Henderson Swamp, and spent the middle of the day zooming around the sprawling Atchafalaya Basin my my boat.
As the day aged, we investigated several options for sunset, but finally settled on framing up these three moss-draped cypress trees in Flat Lake. We anchored the boat an hour before official sunset, and visited while we crossed our fingers that the wispy clouds would stick around.
Sunsets can be tricky, though. No clouds generally mean no color, but too many clouds obscure the sun completely.
We needn't have worried about this sunset, however. The clouds were perfect as the sun touched the horizon, providing the perfect tableau for a wash of color behind the silhouette of trees.
It was the perfect beginning to another year!
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