Every night, the sun sets a little differently on Lake Erie.
Which is why Aprell Burkey, the head server at Sunset Harbor Bar & Grille in Fairport Harbor, takes photos of the sunset nearly every night.
“I have like a bajillion of them,” said Burkey, an amateur photographer beginning to turn her hobby into a money maker. “There’s just so many opportunities for pictures. I think we have one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Every one is different, with different colors. It’s just amazing.”
Burkey won RocktheLake’s first-ever Summer Solstice Sunset photo contest, which garnered more than 100 entries. Burkey received nearly a quarter of the 1,000 votes cast, among 25 top photos selected by RocktheLake.
Chet Mistur took second in the contest, with about 22 percent. And Ryan Bloomfield was third, with just under 13 percent of the votes.
All three winning photos featured boats — a working freighter, the retired steamship William G. Mather at the Great Lakes Science Center and the Miller Ferry on its journey from Put-in-Bay to Catawba.
There was a bit of social media campaigning, but hey, that’s part of the fun.
Here are the photographers’ views on photography and Lake Erie sunsets.
Town: Fairport Harbor
Camera: Canon Rebel
Getting the shot: “The freighter just happened to pass. It was perfect timing.”
What makes a good sunset: “It’s totally unpredictable. Sunnier days make the nicer pictures. But sometimes after storms, those are usually gorgeous sunsets. And the afterglow. On Wednesday night it was even more gorgeous after it set. It was pink and orange. The water has a glow to it.”
The future of the photo: “It’s definitely one that I want to blow up and frame. It has a special meaning to it now.”
Day job: Field engineer
Camera: Nikon D700. Takes actions shots of youth hockey
Contest pedigree: This is the first contest he’s entered, and he took the shot specifically for RocktheLake. “I was trying to get the Rock Hall in it, but it didn’t work out. So I moved a few feet over, saw the Mather there. I thought, that’s kind of cool. It captured Cleveland, which is the point.
Take on sunsets: “It’s very different here. You can be downtown and turn around and watch the sunset on the water. That’s what’s cool about it. It’s the best of both worlds.
Lake Erie Love: Grew up spending my summers on Lake Erie at his grandparents’ cottage and now spend time at his parents’ cottage on Catawba Island.
Take on sunsets: “What I love about Lake Erie sunsets is no two are ever the same. Whether it be watching the sun dip below the horizon or relaxing on the porch it is a peaceful experience being blessed to be on the lake. With or without camera in hand, I enjoy spending time out on the lake. I am truly grateful to be one of many photographers who are privileged to go out and photograph along the Shores and Islands taking in the beauty of Lake Erie.”