To me, the most interesting sunrise and sunset photos are those taken with the sun and low clouds at the horizon. Perhaps because of my physics background, I like what those photos exhibit: refractive distortion of the solar disk, dispersion of the sunlight into colors, and reflection of the resulting colors from the clouds. Because these effects are greatest when the sun is at or just below the true horizon, photos showing all these features must usually be taken either over very flat plains or over large bodies of water.
So why are the photos contained herein not of that type? Because there are too many trees in southern Louisiana. The land is flat enough and there are plenty of lakes, but almost everywhere you go, the true horizon is hidden by distant trees. To make matters worse, many (perhaps most) lakes are partially swamps, so trees grow in shallow parts of the lake itself. I guess I won’t be able to get the kind of sunrise or sunset photos I prefer until I decide to go down to the Gulf Coast or some similar location and spend a few days waiting for the right sky conditions.
Until then, please accept this sequence of photos taken during a recent sunset at Lake Martin, where trees indeed obscure the true horizon.
A final word about post processing: My photographic skills being what they are, photos out of my cameras often fail to reproduce the exact lighting and colors I remember seeing, especially in the case of sunrises and sunsets. Thus, post processing is necessary. Most modern landscape photographers seem to use post processing for more than the true reproduction of a scene; they apply extra enhancement of saturation, vibrance, contrast, etc. The results are undeniably beautiful and intriguing images. Because there are no hard-and-fast rules in this game, whether or not to perform this extra enhancement is a matter of personal choice. When processing the above images, I chose not to enhance them beyond the actual lighting and color of the scenes as I remembered them. [An interesting article on this subject is Tom Till’s “Digital Pitfalls: A Cautionary Tale” published in a recent issue of Outdoor Photographer.]
The location from which these photos were taken is shown on the map below. Zoom in for more detail.