A year of sunsets (2006 version)

Flickr has a lot of sunset photographs. Too many, some would say.


To build this graph I collected just a few of them, by searching for photos that have been tagged “Sunset”.


I collected only 100 photos from the hundreds posted each day of the preceding 365 days, so that the photos are evenly distributed across the past year. There are over 35,000 photos shown in the graph.


I positioned each photo horizontally according to the day it was taken, and vertically according to the hour it was taken.


By making each photo translucent, I created a “hot spot” which shows when the most photos were taken, each day of the past year.


The bright band shows the approximate time of sunset for each day. You can see that as the year progresses, the time of the sunset changes.


The deepest dip in the band corresponds to the summer solstice (about June 22), and the highest part of the band corresponds to the winter solstice (about December 22).


This is the second time I’ve graphed the curve of the sunsets using Flickr sunsets. The first time, over a year ago, I used all the photos then available, which produced a more inconsistent looking graph.


  • Boyu Wang 9y

    i really love this picture. i blogged it here.
  • Joe G 8y

  • Nick Bramhall 8y

    That is such a brilliant use of all that data here on Flickr! Great job.

    As for DST I celebrated the other day as I'm finally back in sync with my camera's clock - I never changed the time last October to account for the end of BST!
  • Rachel Fagen 8y

    At last, a use for all those sunsets. Bbox is a great tool.
  • [ Noktor-Matic ] 8y

    that is cool!
  • Mauricio Pereira 7y

    Great great great!!!
  • sasi_nisha_shyaam 7y

    aaaha, excellent work. i appreciate the data collection.
  • kutiekate26 7y

    I dont get how you came up with this, how do you know what time and day the pictures were taken and I dont see what the data is suppissed to show and why. Not critisizing, i just want to understand, I dont get it lol
  • Jim Bumgardner 7y


    The graph shows what time of day these pictures (tagged "sunset") were taken. The pictures are positioned on the x-axis according to the day of the year, and on the y-axis according to the time-of-day.

    I'm getting the date & time information for each photo from flickr, it's one of the pieces of information that flickr can provide about the photos people store on it. If you look on the right-hand column for each photo, you'll see something that says "Taken on November 8, 2006". Flickr actually allows you to specify more accurate information, down to the specific hour, minute and second for each photo, and many digital cameras automatically embed this information into each photo.

    As far as what the graph shows - the most obvious thing it shows is that the time most sunset photos are taken follows a sinusoidal curve pattern which is closely correlated to the time of sunset over the course of the year, in the temperate parts of the northern hemisphere. It also shows that many sunset photos on flickr do not have correct metadata.
  • Elijah 7y

    FWIW: I do not reset the clock in my camera for DST, and I don't reset them when traveling between timezones. So the pictures I taken in Singapore and in New York are all timestamped with my home time, not localtime. I expect that sort of clock skew is common and will contribute to some of the noise.
  • Lynn Morag 7y


    ...And I forget to change my camera clock too when I travel between timezones (so about 5 hours out)

    Seen in a discussion of CM
  • George Bitsanis 7y

    hey man that is absolutely awesome :) i red the five question thing and that's how i ended up here and i've got an idea that might help with that thing you said about "instant photojournalism" so here goes...
    what if while viewing this image (a year of sunsets) i could zoom in to a region of say 1hour by 1day and see graphical respesantations of the raw data (images) that were simultaneously live i.e. i could link through them to the individual sets! anyway your work is cool just as it is cheers man
  • gertys 7y

    Well done! Way to "crowdsource" art! I have couple of humble suggestions for more:
    -- "Fireworks" (major holidays may pop out)
    -- "New Years Eve" & "fireworks" (a way to separate timezones?)
    -- "Lunar eclipse" vs. "Solar eclipse" (probably could go back many years)

    I found this thread after seeing your 5 questions also, which I'd imagine is the cause for the sudden bump after a 2-month lag. Sorry if you've tried these already but I couldn't resist the chance to weigh in. Great job!
  • Jim Robinson 7y

    Now I want to know "what 5 questions?"
  • Jim Bumgardner 7y

  • Jim Robinson 7y

    Hey -thanks for link. Interesting stuff.

    Two further questions:

    1) Can you point me in the direction of how to manually geotag my photos?

    2) Why do you have bananas on your head in your photo?

    <I don't really expect you to answer the second one>
  • Jim Bumgardner 7y

    Killaypetshop: How to manually geotag your photos:

    1. Go to the photo's page.
    2. Click on the link on the right that says "Add to your map"
    3. Select the location the photo was taken on the map, and then press the "Add to my map" button.

    To answer the second question, I took the photo for a very cool Flickr group called "Green Banana Hats", which contains photos of people wearing... Guess!

    I used the photo to make this cool poster, over at FD's Flickr Toys:

  • Jim Robinson 7y

    Yay I got it working - thanks. Took several attempts but I finally realised I needed to go to "organizr" and then it worked.
  • Anthony thyssen 6y

    One thing that has not been mentioned is the relative thickness of the bar.

    of course sunset photos will be plus or minus some time from the actual time of the sunset, but what no one has mentioned is that accross any particular time zone that actual REAL time of the sunset is plus or minus 30 minutes of the time for that time zone.

    That is someone on the eastern side of a time zone will experience sunset almost an hour earlier than someone on the western size of the time zone.

    So any particular photo (if the time is set correctly on the camera) will be +/- 30minus and +/- some time around sunset, lets also say about 30 minutes!

    Then means the photo could be +/- 1 hour of the actual time, and that corresponse to a bar thickness of anout 2 hours.

    Looking at the chart that is about the average thickness of the main bar!
  • cjsponz 5y

    These charts are wonderful! I was just searching for equinox photos & Flickr led me to one of yours.
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Taken on November 8, 2006
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