Sep 15, 2013

Zandvoort Sunsets

Sunsets are marvellous things. They can inspire us, calm us, indeed make us feel all manner of emotions depending upon the location and time of year. Sunsets in Zandvoort are no exception; they can be very special.

In summer, the sunset on Zandvoort beach can range enormously depending upon the degree of cloud and strength of the wind at the time the sun goes down. The photo above is a great example - a rich golden setting sun amid a light layer of cloud with hues of blue and purple reflecting on the calm sea below.

I have seen many sunsets in Zandvoort with wide range of colours in the sky from dark red to pink and purple. Sometimes the sea has been a luminescent blue, almost too striking to be true. The reason that sunsets on this beach can be awe-inspiring is because there is such an expanse of beach and open sea, no bays or coves to break the light.

Zandvoort's strongest tradition for centuries was fishing. The villagers' lives back in the 19th century were dominated by the sea and its provision of a livelihood for them. Fisherman at that time clearly had a rugged life, contending with all that nature sometimes threw at them - storms, high winds, heavy rain etc. However, there must have witnessed some amazing sunsets that reminded them of the beauty of the world in which they struggled to earn and living and survive.

The Dutch painter Jozef Israels is said to have discovered his own style of artistic expression after spending time in Zandvoort recovering from an illness. He was struck by the harshness and tragedy of the villagers' daily lives which it's believed gave him an increased desire to express emotion and pity in his art. One of his most important subsequent works is 'The Zandvoort Fisherman' which Vincent van Gogh saw on a trip to Amsterdam in 1885 and which he wrote about in a letter to his brother Theo dated 10 October that year. He described it as 'masterly'. Praise indeed. You can read Vincent's letter in its entirety here.

Getting back to modern-day Zandvoort, what's often interesting about a sunset on the beach is if you turn around and, instead of looking out to sea, look back at the sand and dunes instead. The cafes and terraces are bathed in a golden light.

From up on the boulevard above the beach there's usually another spectacle ... that of people, often in their droves if it's been a hot summer's day, stood or sat watching the sunset as if transfixed. The power of the sun and its ability to paint a different picture every time it sets is clearly something we humans find amazing.

To watch some film of the sun setting over Zandvoort beach click here. It took about 20 minutes for me to film it and I've used small edits and cross fades to enable you to watch it in about 5 minutes instead. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did filming it. 

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