The golden hours of sunset are a great time to shoot your photography. Unfortunately, there are times when you are getting those memory shots, but you know you need to get back closer to civilization before the sun goes down. This could be anywhere from a desert location, out on open water, or (for this blog especially) out in the African bush. So, how do you know when the sun will be down?
Today’s photo tip was taught to me by the British Adventurer, Bear Grylls. Mr. Grylls is a trained survivalist and hosts a U.S. television show “Man vs. Wild”. In one of his episodes, he noted the importance of making camp prior to sunset and displayed a neat trick to predict sunset. The method is quite simple and I have proven it’s effectiveness in my trips into Chobe National Park.
Step 1 – Face the sun and hold your hand out at arm’s length.
Step 2 – hold your fingers parallel to the distant horizon with your lowest finger aligned with the horizon. (see photo 2)
Step 3 – count the number of fingers between the horizon and the sun. As you can see in my photo number 3, I have about 45 minutes before the sun is fully set.
That’s basically all there is to it. Short lesson, simple lesson, and one that really works. I have used this method for up to two hours of planning (stacking one hand upon the other). Unfortunately, that used all of the fingers I personally posses, so I cannot vouch for this method for greater time planning … but we’re photographers and the golden hours are the only ones we care about anyway …. right?
Now you have my tip … so in the words of one of my favorite performers, Sir Elton John, “Don’t let the sun go down on you!”