Capturing Sunsets

June 3, 2011

It has been a wet, damp, cloudy, colder-than-usual spring in Seattle. Perhaps that is why I'm longing for sunsets. Not that the sun doesn't set here in the Pacific Northwest. We simply haven't been able to observe that lovely orange orb.

I've lost count of the number of times I've jumped off my bicycle and raced to get that perfect sunset shot, only to be disappointed with the results. The images are usually washed out and boring; nothing like the dramatic event I witnessed in person.

Then a photographer I met in Belize told me, "You are focusing on the sun when you should be focusing on what the sun is silhouetting."

It was great advice.

Now when I'm pedaling and the sun is getting low in the sky, I start looking for that object, person or tree that will make my sunset shot worthy of keeping.

As far as silhouettes go, you won't get many more dramatic than that of the Pohutukawa tree. This native tree of the North Island of New Zealand (also known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree) has limbs that reach out and appear to defy gravity.

This photo instantly takes me back to a glorious bike trip around one of the friendliest and most beautiful countries on earth.

Photos by Willie Weir

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at


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