Every day an hour before sunset I begin a routine that has become second nature to me: pull out a map, check the direction of sunset, and scout a location for a potential photo. I have several apps that help me with planning the location down to a specific GPS coordinate. I arrive at the destination, set up my photography and video gear, pull out a chair, and wait for the show.
Sometimes the show is lackluster and unimpressive, but that’s okay; if I wasn’t there to begin with, I would never capture anything amazing. It’s a risk I take, but when I see a spectacular sunset all the risks before it has been worth it. I would say about half the time I set up for a sunset photo I get something that is rather nice, and at the very least pleasant to watch.
But every once in awhile something absolutely magical happens. The layer of clouds in the sky, the timing of the sunset, and my vantage point all come together to create a breathtaking sunset vista. During these moments I can’t stop smiling and laughing as the camera shutter clicks and I know I have captured that moment forever. There was this one time atop Sassafras Mountain, the tallest mountain in South Carolina, I captured my favorite sunset photo ever.
I’ve captured hundreds of sunset photos over the years, but only a select few stand out as really great travel photos. For a travel photo to be good it needs to show a sense of location. Shooting photos of a brilliant pink and orange sky is a dime a dozen and readily available online. These photos show a sense of place giving you an idea of where it might have been taken, and hopefully inspires you to travel there and see a sunset like this for yourself!
Looking down Ocean Blvd and the long row of towering resorts in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this sunset was a treat to watch from the roof of a parking garage.
On the roof of another parking garage, this sunset was spectacular with late evening traffic buzzing below in Myrtle Beach, SC.
It was peaceful standing at a marina in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, for this sunset photo.
The public boat access on Folly Beach, South Carolina is one of my favorite places to scout an epic sunset.
This was the view on my first night ever in Beaufort, South Carolina. It’s just one of the reasons I fell in love with this place and visit every year.
This unique observation tower in Port Royal, South Carolina is a great place to watch the sunset, but also makes a great foreground element to give the photo a sense of location.
Southport, North Carolina is a charming coastal town known for the epic Fourth of July Festival, but on this particular day I only came for the sunset.
My favorite place to capture sunset photos in Charleston, South Carolina is on or near the Ravenel Bridge. This photo was taken on Wonders Way, a hiking/jogging/biking path on one side of the bridge connecting Charleston with Mount Pleasant.
Sunsets in Wilmington, North Carolina are amazing as you look out across the Cape Fear River in one of the most beautiful downtowns I’ve ever seen in a small city.
This location on Lookout Mountain, Georgia is called Sunset Rock for a reason.
Sunset photos don’t always have to include the sun itself, such as this view in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
This is my favorite travel photo I have ever captured. I wasn’t feeling great on this particular day, but decided to take the curvy road to Sassafras Mountain in South Carolina anyway. I’m glad I did.
Sunset views on the Appalachian Trail can be absolutely amazing, such as this one from Round Bald along the Roan Highlands of Tennessee.
Beauty Spot on the Appalachian Trail near Erwin, Tennessee has earned it’s name. Sunrise and sunsets are both magical here.
The Blue Ridge Parkway has proved elusive to me thus far in the area of sunset photos, but I captured this one in Fall 2016 at the Cowee Mountain Overlook between Asheville and Cherokee in North Carolina.
The Morton Overlook in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is my favorite place to set up for a sunset photo in the Southeast.
Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a stunning place to visit just about any day of the week, but this particular day the sunset could not have been better for me.
Traveler. Writer. Photographer. Born and raised in Virginia, living most my adult life on the coast of the Carolinas, I am the Southeastern Traveler. I'm always looking for the next great travel story to tell. What's your story?