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Old 26-12-2006, 23:52   #1 (permalink)
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Question Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Here is an observation that puzzles me

In a lot of photography books that I've read, which are written by professional photographers who all know better than me (which is why I can't understand this ...) the authors often refer to the colours of sunrise + sunset in one phrase as being "warm". (I've just read it again, in one of Lee Frost's books that I'm in the middle of, which has prompted me to bring it up here in the forum, while I think about it.) They seem to put the two lighting conditions hand in hand, as if they produce the same effect.

Well, I don't see it that way at all. In all sunrise shots I see soft pastel shades which are only lightly saturated and show rather cool colours (maybe a very soft warmish glow just on the horizon itself), whereas sunset shots come out with strong, saturated, vibrant, warm colours.

Am I the only one who does not see sunrise + sunset in the same light?
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Old 27-12-2006, 14:58   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

No, I'm with you here, Charlotte. I think there is a big difference in the light at the start and end of the day. You are dead right about the pastel quality at dawn and the vibrancy of the susnset. As I am a bit colour blind I suspect I'll see it differently anyway, but I certainly agree on the pastel/vibrant issue.

Perhaps the wise ones are referring to the actual colour temperatures being in the 'warm' range (with the dawn at the cooler end) rather than our perception of it?
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Old 27-12-2006, 17:39   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Agree a sunrise always seem "fresh" to the eye, where as a sunset always appears warmer
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Old 27-12-2006, 18:13   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Charlotte, you are probably aware that this all comes from "colour Temperature" and the related "White Balance". Given that normal daylight would be about 6000 k, most sunrises and sunsets will be around the range 4000 to 5000 k which is warm. So it is true that both sunrise and sunset are "warm" in terms of Colour Temperature or white balance but that does not fully describe the quality of light at that time. I agree that sunrise shots generally do look different to sunset. I actually take few pictures at sunrise though it is one of the best times. I find the colour to be more pink than red at sunrise. However, the "colour" does vary a lot according to the time of the year, weather etc.
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Old 27-12-2006, 23:35   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

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Originally Posted by Dave Canon View Post
Charlotte, you are probably aware that this all comes from "colour Temperature" and the related "White Balance". Given that normal daylight would be about 6000 k, most sunrises and sunsets will be around the range 4000 to 5000 k which is warm. So it is true that both sunrise and sunset are "warm" in terms of Colour Temperature or white balance but that does not fully describe the quality of light at that time. I agree that sunrise shots generally do look different to sunset. I actually take few pictures at sunrise though it is one of the best times. I find the colour to be more pink than red at sunrise. However, the "colour" does vary a lot according to the time of the year, weather etc.
Good points Dave, thanks for that. Yes, it's all to do with colour temp + white balance: The kelvin scale enables us to visualise what the camera will see that the human eye will not, i.e. the colour of the light, so that we can correct colour casts, either in-camera or post-processing (if we want to). With that clearly understood, I see photographs (i.e. as seen by the camera sensor, not human eye) of sunrises that show very subtle colour casts compared to those in photo's of sunsets, i.e. very different colour temp's.

As you rightly point out, the weather has a significant effect on the colour temp within a scene (at any time of day for that matter), and because mist is more common at sunrise than any other time of day, I see a lot of sunrise photo's with a noticable blue tinge, i.e. on the cooler side of the scale.

Even on a clear day, sunrises definitely appear much cooler than sunsets to me. As you also mention, the quality of light has a bearing on this, and I would venture to add that the quantity of light comes into play as well: at sunrise the first rays of light are being introduced into the darkness of night, whereas at sunset there's a lot of existing light already in the atmostphere.

I'm not arguing with your view Dave, but expanding upon it
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Old 29-12-2006, 20:41   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Charlotte, this might be off interest

Rayleigh scattering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Old 30-12-2006, 07:05   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

I did a little searching on this and there seems to be a number of factors that affect it.

We dump crap into the atmosphere during the day which affects the light at sunset. This settles through the night.

Apparently the difference in sunset/sunrise is more marked in a built up area (poluted) as opposed to the back of beyond.
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Old 04-01-2007, 23:31   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by emmettleffel View Post
Charlotte, this might be off interest
Rayleigh scattering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Doug
Thanks for that link Doug. A bit scientific + in-depth, + I see the definition of 'Why Is The Sky Blue' is disputed, but a useful reference re: this discussion.

I don't think the polution theory works for me, peel. I believe it has more to do with what I said earlier about the pre-existence of light in the atmosphere at sunset, i.e. a day's light is filtering away, whereas at sunrise there is no pre-existing light in the atmosphere, + the cold(er) air of night prevails, so that the first rays of sunlight appearing over the horizon appear cool.
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Old 05-01-2007, 13:04   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

The Kelvin scale does clearly show that the light at dawn and dusk is indeed warm but of course the differences vary between stark and nothing at all depending on where you are (relative longitude and latitude difference between the point of sunrise and set to where you are). It also varies according to the literal warmth of the air, the relationship of sun and moon positions (a full moon at an angle away from the sun can act as a reflector thus muting the strength of colour), the quality of the air (pollution DOES make a difference Charlotte, most definitely!) and other more scientific factors.

As a general guideline, dawns tend to be more to the yellow scale of red and dusk tends to be stronger reds. But as I said, this will differ hugely depending on where you are and all the other factors that affect this. But to call both dawn and dusk colours 'warm' is technically correct. It is a quirk of the scale (though with scientific reasons that are not worth going into here) that is used for light (Kelvin scale) that the lower numbers are warmer and the higher numbers are colder as opposed to the physical temperature scale which is the other way round.

It is worth noting that landscapes taken at dawn where the colours are often more muted will not have the same depth as the same picture taken during a stronger sunset. The reason for this is that the warmer the colour, the more the eye is drawn to it so strong reds proceed and strong blues recede in a picture. If you have strong red in the close sky fading back to dark blue in the distance, you get a wonderful sense of depth in the picture.

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