Vivid Colors In Clean Air Sunsets

Have you ever been amazed by naturally vivid colors in some sunrises and sunsets? Having lived in Florida the majority of my life, I have experienced many amazing sunrises and sunsets in my home state, particularly during winter months. Being that I have been taking sunrise/sunset photos for years, I noticed a pattern that seemed like winter months had deeper hues than summer months. For example, this sunrise was taken in December 2012 in Ponce Inlet, Florida.

Sunrise – Ponce Inlet, Florida – ©2012 Shannon Hart


Twelve years ago, I was amazed at the brightest of oranges when I visited Tucson, Arizona. So what makes some sunrises and/or sunsets so much more vivid than others?

Sunset – Tucson, Arizona – ©2009 Shannon Hart

Part of the answer lies in the dust particles in the air, because simply put, when the air is clean (as opposed to large cities), the colors are more vivid. In other words, dust and pollution particles create a filter of sorts that blocks the spreading of color. Makes sense, right? It’s a little more complicated than my summarized version, however, this article – “The Colors of Sunset and Twilight” by Stephen F. Corfidi – gives a much more in-depth explanation of how it actually works.

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