Transitions of light

Transitions of light

I had a long administrative day today, working on my Artist-in-Residence presentation for tomorrow evening at 7:30 at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, as well as putting up two blog posts and some other photo business stuff via email. I have to go into Estes Park to do my Internet work, as, not surprisingly, there is no Internet in the historic cabin where I am staying. By the time I got back into the park, it was 7:45. Not having enough time to get to a “good” evening location, I decided to photograph the transition of light from evening to dark.

Evening light is like a creature fighting for its last breath of life. As the sun gets lower, the color on the mountains gets more golden, more rich. When that light leaves the mountains, there is an explosion of golds and pinks in the clouds – if there are any. Once those pinks fade, the last colors breathe their last breath, giving way to the death of color, save for select hues of gray and blue.

I think it is a really magical time, probably the most scientific time for a photographer, as you truly can appreciate how light works as the sun gets lower and its rays have to go through thicker atmosphere. The colors that we see are a combination of refraction, atmosphere, and reflection. The deep blues of glaciers that everyone loves so much can only exist because of the density of that ice, and what it does to the blue spectrum of light. As the sun leaves the sky and gives way to night, everything turns blue, grey or black because there is little or no light to reflect or refract.

Twilight photos or nighttime photos may not be commercially popular images, but I enjoy taking them because they are graphically strong images. They are also more challenging, because there is not the advantage of color and subject available as in morning or evening photos.

After shooting the death of the sun’s colors for the day, I decided to set up a nighttime time lapse from the porch of my cabin. It is not an ideal spot because, as you will see in the slide show below, there are a variety of sources of light pollution – nearby cabins, cars driving by, and, predominantly, the glowing lights from Boulder or Denver, I am not sure which, in the lower left corner. But I wanted to set up the shot to test a new approach for me to nighttime time lapses so I can have the setting s right when I find a more scenic spot to use.

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