Sunday, July 26, 2009

Why I Think We Like Sunrises

Thanks to all for posting (on my twitter site) their reasons as to why humans like sunrises.

Here is my guess:

Most action in the animal kingdom, above and under water, takes place at sunrise and sunset. Animals seek out prey and seek out protecting from predators during those times. In Africa for example, most of the action is over by 8 AM; it does not start until around sunset. It's the same on the coral reef. This has been true for millions of years. Perhaps the reason we like sunrises and sunsets is because millions of years ago, it was at those times when we were most alert to danger and exhilarated by a potential meal – and perhaps somewhere buried in our minds are those feelings.

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And here is what Dr. Richard Zakia, author of Perception of Imaging, says about sunrises:

I think you hit the nail on the head with your insight. We are part of the animal world. I think if we did not live in our civilized world we might be more attentive to sunrise and sunset, like our farmers are. I wonder if animals were 'civilized', like those that live in a zoo or aquarium, respond the same way to sunset and sunrise as those in the wild.

I recall an experiment that was done some years back where a woman was put in a
dark space for a couple of days to determine whether she could tell sunrise from sunset,
sleep time from wake time, or something like that. The result was astonishing. She could.



Jason Collin said...

Great point Rick. I feel some of those same instincts perhaps, during the day, especially the afternoon I often feel listless. Once dusk approaches I perk up.

One day I hope to buy your signature African tree photograph on canvas. I'm a big fan of that image.

Cooper Strange said...

That is an interesting idea, but I have to say I disagree. I had too many thoughts to try to cram into a comment here, so I put them on my own blog. I think the answer is both more simple and even more fundamental than what you suggest.

Rick Sammon said...

Jason.. glad you agree. Cooper, hey, everyone has his or own ideas:-) Good 4 U.

Rick Sammon said...

My pal, Steve Inglima from Canon, says this about my sunset theory:

I think you're on to something here too.

As I mentioned in my theory of Black and White, where evolutionary sense memory could be alerting us to a sense of danger when we don't see color, I think there's a piece of this going on too at sunrise..
It's certainly is the end of the night (when we needed to hide in our earlier history). And at sunset, we have to start looking for shelter.

But I think there are also other key and simpler explanations that are valid too.

Both sunrise and sunset feature the filtering effect of the atmosphere, so the sun and sky appear red. I know I like that color, but also appreciate the lesser intensity of the sun at these times, as my eyes don't strain to see into shadows when the sun is lower on the's more relaxing.

Also, the sun at the horizon shadows the features of everything on the Earth's surface far better than the sun overheard. We can judge distance better, see details better, and tell shapes better.

Just another theory.