A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about sunsets and sunrises



When we use the term ‘monochrome’ we might be assumed to be talking about black and white photography, but I also like to take colour monochrome photos, by which I mean colour images that consist mainly of shades of a single colour. Let me show you what I mean.

Sunrise and sunset are obvious times of day for such photos as the warmth of the sun tints everything around.

Sunrise at Souimanga Lodge, Senegal

A Senegal sunset

The blue light of dusk has a similar effect – and in winter dusk comes early in northern Europe.

In January 2013 we travelled to Tromsø in search of the Northern Lights and were fortunate enough to see them several times. But our time there, and cruising the fjords to the north on a Hurtigruten ship, also gave us the opportunity to see something of this beautiful country, although the days were very short.

Winter cruise in the Norwegian Fjords

Tromsø Harbour

The previous year we had visited Iceland on a similar but less fruitful quest, but that trip was even more rewarding photographically speaking, as I hope this, and several others of the photos I've selected for this blog, will show.

Hafnarfjördur Harbour, Iceland

But bad weather, often cursed by photographers (including me!), can provide great opportunities too. I spent much of our boat trip on Chile's Lago Todos los Santos wishing the clouds would clear so that we could see the surrounding mountains, but in the end I was happy with the moody photos I took there.

Island on Lago Todos los Santos, Chile

We had similarly damp and dreary weather on the first day of our visit to Japan's Kamikochi National Park. Kamikochi did have a certain beauty in the rain, although it had meant that the mountains we had come to see were hidden from view. Luckily we were to get a glimpse of them on our final morning in the park, but meanwhile there were still photo opportunities to be found.

Kamikochi in the rain

Unsurprisingly we had some bad weather in Iceland too, although also a couple of glorious days - this isn't one of those!

Gullfoss panorama

Upper falls, Gullfoss

While not precisely bad weather, steam from geysers creates the same effect as fog or mist, muting colours and softening the scene.

One of the geysers of Iceland, the Great Geyser (Icelandic name, Stori Geysir) , gave its name to the phenomenon as a whole, with geysers all over the world named after it (geyser is Icelandic for 'gusher'). Sadly the Great Geyser is these days more or less inactive (although occasionally it can be coaxed back into life when artificially stimulated with carbolic soap powder). But luckily another nearby geyser, Strokkur, is much more obliging, and erupts at regular 5-10 minute intervals. It may not reach the heights that its neighbour once did, but at 30 or more metres it is still a pretty impressive sight. And I promise you, these are not black and white photos!

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Strokkur, Iceland

Of course, geysers are not confined to Iceland, and in Chile we visited the famous El Tatio Geysers, best seen at dawn when the steam is most active and visible, and the light is of course subdued.

El Tatio geyser field, Atacama Desert, just before sunrise

El Tatio geyser field, Atacama Desert

Similar effects can be found in stark landscapes, where there is little vegetation and colours are often muted. The White Sands of New Mexico are a perfect example. Imagine a desert with dunes that stretch to the horizon, dotted with a few hardy plants and baking under a hot sun. Now imagine that the sand in this desert is not yellow, but as white as snow, and you will have some idea of what it is like here.




White Sands National Monument

Closer to home, one of my favourite photographic locations is Druridge Bay in Northumberland, preferably on a crisp winter's day.

Winter scene in the dunes, Druridge Bay

And talking of the Northumberland coast brings us to seascapes. Again, Northumberland provides some of the best.

Refuge on the Pilgrims' Way, Holy Island

Gulls and rocks off Boulmer

But perhaps the most dramatic coastal scenery I have been able to photograph to date is that of South Iceland, where big seas and black sands make for exciting views.

Reynisdrangar seen from Dyrhólaey

Reflections, Dyrhólaey

Another option for monochrome colour images is to get in close to your subject, so only one colour fits into the frame. Let's finish with some examples of this.

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Indian architecture - Taj Mahal and haveli in Jaisalmer

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Moroccan architecture, Telouet

Plant pot at the Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto

Kinkaku-ji: the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

Antiques in Frenchtown - New Jersey

Guggenheim Museum, NYC

Posted by ToonSarah 08:20 Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches rain architecture desert new_york japan india colour views chile weather morocco photography seas national_park geysers iceland Comments (10)



I am a regular reader of Wanderlust magazine which always poses a particular question to everyone they interview:

‘Mountain, desert, ocean or jungle - which are you ?’

When I consider what I would reply, I am always torn between desert and mountains as both landscapes create in me the same sense of awe. For this entry though, I will focus (pun intended!) on deserts.


We were fortunate to have travelled in Syria in 1996, and therefore long before the current troubles facing the country erupted. It was there that I first experienced the vastness of a desert sky, as our bus travelled the long distances between sights. One day I should share my old slides of that trip here but for now here is just one, taken at a remote desert fuel station.

Syrian desert scene


Here’s an even older photo, showing my very first taste of the desert, on the edge of the Sahara in Tunisia in 1986 – our first sunset camel ride.

Camel ride in Tunisia


On the road in the Kalahari

A more recent holiday in Africa took us to Namibia, where we hired a car to explore independently. Our route took in both the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, which are very different – the former more scrub, the latter classic sand dunes.

Kalahari sunset

The Namib Desert at Sossusvlei

Big Daddy sand dune, Sossusvlei

Dead Vlei


The ultimate desert experience here was our balloon flight over the dunes at sunrise:



Arizona and Utah

The number of old photos in this blog is emphasising for me how long my attraction to desert landscapes has lasted. Here is a selection from a road trip through the desert states of the US south west back in 1993.


Arches National Park

Bryce Canyon

Coral Pink Sand Dunes


While on a Silk Road tour of Uzbekistan in 2007 we spent one night in a yurt in the Kyzylkum Desert. This is the 16th largest desert in the world and its name means Red Sand in the Turkic language, although as you can see, where we camped the sand was more yellow than red!


At our Kyzylkum yurt camp

And again we had the obligatory sunset camel ride:



These sunset camel rides are becoming a bit of a recurring theme! Here’s our most recent one, in the deserts of western Rajasthan (with apologies for reposting photos of a trip already shared on a separate blog here):



Desert camp near Samsara


Most recently I have had my ‘desert fix’ in the Atacama region of Chile. As with Rajasthan, I have shared many photos of that trip on a separate blog here, but here are just a few of my favourites to finish this entry:


Water in the desert, at the Salar de Atacama


The Valle de la Luna

Posted by ToonSarah 07:53 Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises desert india chile camp africa camel photography syria past_travels Comments (13)

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