“The Sea of Sunset”
By Emily Dickinson
This is the land the sunset washes,
These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;
Where it rose, or whither it rushes,
These are the western mystery!
Night after night her purple traffic
Strews the landing with opal bales;
Merchantmen poise upon horizons,
Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.
I love watching and photographing the sun peek over the horizon in the morning and slip below the horizon in the evening, a pastime of millions (probably billions) of people.
My husband and I spent the month of February 2021 on a beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, the “Sunset Capital” of Alabama, where we could see both sunsets and sunrises. Twice the beauty. We don’t have a view of either sunrises or sunsets from our home, so this was a real treat.
On the island, I photographed every sunrise and every sunset on the days it wasn’t foggy or raining. I posted several of my sunrise and sunset photographs on Print on Demand sites, such as Fine Art America and Zazzle, and I’ve included a few in this post.
Toward the end of the month as I tried to get the perfect sunset shot, I thought “Maybe it isn’t a good idea to stare at the setting sun through my viewfinder.” You’re all thinking, “Well, duh, that’s an idiotic thing to do.”
And yes, dear readers, I apparently damaged my retina and worsened my cataracts. When I got home I discovered that I could no longer see clearly through the viewfinder with my right eye. I had Lasik 25 years ago, which corrected my right eye to be able to read without glasses in the monovision procedure, and I can still do that even though everything is a bit fuzzy when I look through the viewfinder. I thought my viewfinder was dirty, but the problem is my eye. I never used my left eye (my distance corrected eye) to see through the viewfinder, but I’m training myself to use it.
My ophthalmologist told me that I should no longer take sunset photographs or even watch sunsets. There are probably ways to do it safely, such as using the camera screen rather than the viewfinder, but I’m probably not going to take the chance.
Eventually I’ll have cataract surgery, but I don’t think the solar retinopathy is going to diminish.
Be safe out there, everyone!