The sun has a very predictable cycle and we have many apps and websites to give us information regarding sunrises and sunsets. We get to know within minutes of each of the events. There is a nautical hour, blue hour, and golden hour. This has helped us all plan for great photos of both the sunsets and sunrises. However, I decided to expand this to catching the sun above the horizon and lined up with the streets of a city or over a landmark.
In this blog I looking for the time when the sun will line up with the East and West running streets for Cincinnati. For this to happen in your town or city, the streets need to be running in the North to South and East to West layout. Many major cities do this in true East/West and North/South directions. The information in this blog is for Cincinnati and your city will have different times when this phenomenon occurs, so don't rely on my dates below.
Lining up a photo on the streets with the sun bearing straight down the street actually occurs several days before sunset or days after for a sunrise. If you go to your location at the actual sunset or sunrise time, the sun will be too low on the horizon. So, using an app such as PhotoPills, I was able to estimate what day might work for the sun to be lined up. Here is what I found that works for Cincinnati, OH.
October 13th is the date when the sunset directly lines up with the East-West streets of Cincinnati. However, this will put the sun too low for it to be visible in a photo with the streets of the city. Instead, I want the sun to be up and be in view of the photo.
So, on October 9th the sun will be high enough to see and in line with the East-West streets of Cincinnati to be part of the photo.
There is some play here, so if you need you can adjust a day forward or back if needed. This makes it flexible with your schedule and also gives you a chance for a do-over. Also, if there are better clouds on one day over the other, you will have choices.
On April 11th is when the sunrise directly lines up with East-West streets in Cincinnati.
April 15th is about the date when the sun will be high enough to see and in line with the East-West streets of Cincinnati.
I use manual settings for landscapes and city shots. I like aperture priority, but in cases where the light is not changing rapidly manual works best. For settings, I would recommend using the lowest ISO possible and high aperture setting (assuming you are wanting most of the architecture to be in focus). This means your shutter speed may be down in the 1/15th of a second or possibly slower. A tripod is a must for this setup and since you will be sitting in the same place for the most part that should not be an issue.
My first attempt went well in 2019 and am excited to try again in 2020 if possible. This photo was the last photo I took and was walking back to my car.