I’ve been thinking this week about how something so common in our lives–sunset– always compels our attention, and why that is.

I just returned from a short visit to Shenandoah National Park. I’m lucky to live within an hour’s drive of the Park, or as I like to say the Park is “within 15 degrees cooler” from where I live. And during August, that 15 degrees can make a world of difference.

One evening I happened to be at the Skyland Lodge just before sunset, and something happened that made me ask myself: “Why do we (humans) do that?”

Skyland Lodge has a large picture window facing west, and just outside the window is a narrow deck running the entire length of the window. As the sun began to set, minute by minute, people calmly migrated from inside to outside, each person quietly finding a spot to stand along the deck to watch the sun set. 

I wonder, is it just the mere beauty of a sunrise or sunset that attracts our attention, or is there something more to it?  Why is it we might experience hundreds of such moments in our lives, and, still, the excitement for one more is just too great to ignore? I’m convinced there must be a “sunset” gene in our DNA that programs us to seek and witness as many as we possibly can during our lifetime. And in the iPhone era, being a witness to a sunset requires we also take a picture of it. 

I have to admit something. When I’m out taking pictures, sunrises and sunsets are way, way down on my list of priorities. In fact, I tell myself to purposefully ignore chasing such moments. I tell myself that there are far more interesting subjects to capture than just another pretty sunrise or sunset. I tell myself that the interweb is chocked full of sunrises and sunsets, and I don’t need to contribute further to the clutter. 

I tell myself these things, but when it comes right down to it, and when I find myself standing before an exciting sunrise or sunset, I have no other choice than to set up my camera and get ready to capture the most beautiful moment I have ever seen. Again, I think it must be something in my genes making me do this. 

Sometimes, I’ll even consume several sheets of film on a single sunrise or sunset. Sometimes, I’ll return to the same spot on different days, or capture the same “moment” in both color and B&W.  I just can’t help feeling that I must remember what I’m about to witness, and therefore take its picture.

Are you this way as well? Do you chase those moments as the sun rises or sets?  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised– because I know you’re human !

I’m sharing one of my recent sunset photos with you today. Clicking the image of “The Rapture” will take you to its place in the gallery, where you can explore the details and see how it might give you just the right place to go when you need to satisfy a compelling need to witness a sunset. 


Picture of J. Riley StewartIn the meantime, if you want to connect with me on Instagram just click the Instagram button in the footer of this email and follow along. I’ll do the same for you.  I’m doing my best to post a photo-of-the-day, and having a lot of fun seeing what my instagrammers are up to. 

Copyright J. Riley Stewart, 2018, all rights reserved.