This week, the theme from Amy for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is Natural Light. She invited us to look at photography uses the sun as a light source and share photos of changing light throughout the day.
I took this opportunity to study the phenomena of changing light.
The different colors of the natural light determined by the sun’s rays during the light phases of the day. They depend on the elevation of the sun. The phases are the nighttime, morning twilights, morning magic hours, daytime, evening magic hours, evening twilights, and nighttime. The dramatic colors of blue, red, orange and yellow are in the golden hour and blue hour when the sun is lower in the sky during the morning magic hours and evening magic hours shortly before and after the appearance of the sun.
Steven Ackerman, professor of meteorology at UW-Madison said, “Molecules and small particles in the atmosphere change the direction of light rays, causing them to scatter. Scattering affects the color of light coming from the sky, but the details are determined by the wavelength of the light and the size of the particle. The short-wavelength blue and violet are scattered by molecules in the air much more than other colors of the spectrum. This is why blue and violet light reaches our eyes from all directions on a clear day. But because we can’t see violet very well, the sky appears blue.”
Brian Resnick at the Vox.com further explained, “At sunset, light has to travel through a greater distance of atmosphere to reach our eyes — so even more blue light, and even some green and yellow light, gets filtered out. That leaves us with the warmer hues of the visible light, the reds and oranges, and it’s why many sunsets look like fire.
As we approach the winter solstice, the time the sun takes to set lengthens, due to the angle the sun takes in setting into the ground. During the equinoxes, the sun pretty much sinks into the ground at a 90-degree angle. Nearer the winter solstice, the sun sets on more of an angle, drawing out the time it takes to set. Which is to say: Sunset colors linger closer to the winter solstice, which allows us to enjoy them for longer.”
Here are some examples of my photography showing the colors of light shortly before sunset in different months.
These two photos were taken on my walk in the neighborhood in July. They were taken in a less than one minute apart.
These two photos were taken during a Columbia River Gorge Cruise, Washington in September. The two photos were taken in just minutes apart while the cruise ship traveled.
These two photos were also taken in my neighborhood. They sky was clear with spots of scattered clouds in this December early evening before the sun disappeared. Again, the photos were taken in a few seconds apart.
I love taking sunset photos because of the dramatic change of light.