There are some obvious, even cliche, feelings everyone has about sunrise, at least in some point in their lives. It symbolizes a brand new start, of leaving yesterday behind and the promise of good things to come. I have those feelings, too, but wanted to delve deeper. There's something else about watching a sunrise, something visceral.
First, compared to sunsets, the colors and radiance of sunrises are often more brilliant at sunrise. This may be because of atmospheric conditions in which haze and smog can build all day, leaving sunsets muted, though sometimes with a wider palate. Also, the sun approaching the horizon has its rays slowly building until the first light leaps in a blinding shine of light. With the opposite trajectory, the sunlight fades from its last direct light of the day. These might be comparable to your eyes, depending on conditions, but emotionally the former is more exciting.
Comparisons would not be fair without considering the landscape at the location you choose. The shape, type and abundance of clouds can make or break either daybreak or day's end, so very often you do have to be in the right place at the right time. Too many, too thick or too few clouds can ruin the photogenic aspects of the shot. In Florida you have the best opportunity for great sunrises on the Atlantic shore and for wonderful sunsets on the Gulf shore. In Colorado, sunrises east of the Rockies will be much better than sunsets due to the extremely high horizon -- the sun never gives the vivid hues because it has already set behind the mountains. I've always loved both sunrise and sunset over large bodies of water, so my best photos depend on that -- sunrise in Maine, sunset at the eastern shore of Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. All of that said, coastal regions suffer fog or marine layers that often eliminate sunrises completely. That was true often during our travel through New England.
For some, sunrise can be a religious experience, or at least a confirmation of the awesome God they pray to. I'm not religious, but I felt the sunrise I witnessed from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park definitely had a spiritual aura.
Take all the science, the fact that I am up early to watch, the emotional cliches and crisp, brilliant colors, and I'd have to say that sunrise is always something special and my preference. Yes, I have taken some amazing sunset photos, but just as many sunrises have made my favorites list and the other factors I've mentioned make the difference.
We did have fewer comments by fans and followers on this topic, probably because they may not have felt much differently than most people regarding hope and opportunity. Here are a few of those (although some have been edited or paraphrased):
RicU- Sunrise... an entire day I haven’t messed up. Oh Boy!!!
Tim & Crista- Sunrise to me says yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come..... So, be here now! That is why today is the present.
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- Nice to know that with all the other things on our minds, one can still pause and enjoy the beauty that still surrounds us.
John And Debbie M.- Sunrise from a boaters view... Another beautiful day to enjoy the wonders of of sea.
Paul H.- The sunrise is the promise of a new day! So thankful!
Mary Lou C.- The beauty is something to carry with me throughout my day.
Mike H.- There is a freshness that comes with the dawn bringing with it hope that this day will be better than yesterday.
I'll end with a quote from a 19th century leader in New Zealand: "Sunrise offered a very beautiful spectacle; the water was quite unruffled, but the motion communicated by the tides was so great that, although there was not a breath of air stirring, the sea heaved slowly with a grand and majestic motion."
Please feel free to add your own comments and memories below!
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.