“The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire."
— Pamela Hansford Johnson
Although the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s DeKorte Park offers a lot of great nature programs, two daily shows too often get overlooked: sunrise and sunset.
And while it’s human nature to bemoan the fact that the daylight hours are now growing shorter, the good news is that you don’t have to get up as early or visit DeKorte as late in the day to get spectacular shots – weather permitting, of course.
What makes DeKorte a prime spot for great dawns and dusks is the sunlight reflecting off the water. Here are a few tips to get the best shots.
Rule No. 1: You need a nice mix of sun and clouds. No sun, and the sky looks like milk of magnesia. Too much sun, and you’ve got a plain old sunrise or sunset. But get just the right mix and … Bingo.
Rule No. 2: Remember the old saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn”? While that may be true in a metaphoric sense (especially if you are an eternal optimist), the fact is that sometimes the best sunrise shots occurs before the sun appears on the southeastern horizon. That’s because the as-yet-unseen sun is bouncing off the clouds.
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A friend of mine who has taken some awesome sunrise shots likes to get to his destination at least a half-hour before sunrise so he has some time to get his equipment ready – beginning with the requisite tripod.
An excellent place to photograph the sunrise is just inside the entrance to DeKorte. The sun should be “coming up” somewhere over Manhattan.
A check of the sunrises for the coming week shows that the dawn arrives at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow (Dec. 17) and 7:18 a.m. next Wednesday. When is the latest sunrise this year?
Similarly, you can sometimes get some great “after-glow” sunset shots after the sun drops below the horizon but still illuminates the clouds to the southwest. The sun sets around 4:30 p.m. for the entire coming week.
To learn more about the sun and the upcoming solstice (on Dec. 21), attend the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s Third-Tuesday of the Month walk next week.
The program begins at 10 a.m. with a 90-minute walk near the Meadowlands Environment Center in DeKorte, hoping to see wintering waterfowl and a few raptors. and then, at 11:30, listen to a talk about the Sun by Laura Venner, a NASA solar system ambassador and MEC educator.
The walk is run by the N.J. Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release for this event. To rsvp, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-636-4022.