The golden hour is the perfect time of day to take a sunset photo. There are plenty of apps out there for smartphones that let you know when the sun will set, but one article I read on Slate.com, but none prove you with the quality of the sunset.
Three meteorologist’s from Pennsylvania, Ben Reppert, Steve Hallett, and Jacob DeFlitch created the SunsetWX “Sunset Model”, to gather information like moisture, pressure, and cloud cover as important information to find the best sunsets. It’s essentially a website that uses meteorological data to find the most vivid sunset spots geographically with an algorithm that combines multiple variables.
According to the meteorologists: “Our model ingests data from the high resolution, 4 km NAM, allowing us to account for values at all levels of the troposphere. Because of this, we took into account all levels of the troposphere from the surface, to as high as 200 millibars, and weighted each level accordingly, with the upper-levels having the most weight. Closer to the surface we reduced the weight substantially for moisture as it restricts the sun from refracting copious amount of light. Pressure, as well as the change in pressure over time, was the next highest weighted factor as it helps recognize areas where cloud cover may dominate as well as FROPA’s. Finally, we included general cloud cover, to better account for regions where it is overcast, and help the model display it that way.”
The SunsetWX model focuses on the contiguous United States (lower 48) and shows areas with warmer colors to show the most vivid sunsets. This could become the landscape/nature photographers go-to website to see if their location will have a quality sunset or not.
I plan on using it this weekend as I drive out west and shoot the sunset over the Grand Canyon. Check out my Instagram over the next few days to see my photos from the road.