Water’s Edge

sunset

I took this photo two months ago, on black River Bay off of Lake Ontario. It’s one of my favorite sunset pictures, not just because the clouds are so dramatic, but because I happened to catch a flock of birds headed back into shore for the night. This image for me captures some of the beauty and peace of nature.

It also captures a bit of science as well, which ties it into this week’s photo topic: H20. We can see water here in three ways. There’s liquid water in the bay itself at the bottom of the shot. The clouds are made of water and ice suspended by air currents. They are brightly colored because they are reflecting the rays from the sun that’s just below the horizon. Behind the clouds you can see a bit of the normal blue of the sky, and that’s due to water as well. Sunlight is white, containing all the visible wavelengths of light. The shorter blue wavelengths are scattered in all directions by the water vapor in the air, making the sky blue. When the sunlight is reflecting directly off the clouds at low angles, as you get at sunrise and sunset, it has passed through a lot of air to get there and most of the blue light has been scattered. All that’s left is the longer red wavelengths. That’s where the sunset colors come from.

So there you have it: nature and science, together. As they should be.

Posted in response to the WordPress Photo Challenge: H20

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17 thoughts on “Water’s Edge

  1. Pingback: H2O: Consider the Lillies | What's (in) the picture?

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