April 4th, 2012

04 Apr

Still burning in the afterglow….

By Silver Blue

There exists a photographic phenomenon call various things: “False Sunset”, “Lingering Sunset” or simply “Afterglow.”

What is it? Well, as it was described to me: you have your typical sunset. For 90 minutes, or so, after the sunset the energy of the sun still is in the sky — though you’re eyes can’t perceive it, your digital camera is able to.

Point your digital camera in the direction of the night sky where the sunset happened (and you see a black sky, or perhaps starlit), and take a photo. You’d expect to get a nice, star studded sky, yes? Well….not quite. You get:

Notice I picked up the green of a mercury vapor light, and the yellow of a sodium vapor light, but…what’s up with that “black” sky? It doesn’t look so “black” anymore.

In fact, it looks to be sunset. But … it’s not. Sunset happened at 7:39pm. This photo was taken at 8:19pm. A full 40 minutes after the sun slipped under the horizon.

Now, the neat thing about a False Sunset, Lingering Sunset, or Afterglow is that if you rotate yourself a full 180 degrees and shoot in the OPPOSITE direction from the sunset, you get the black sky you’re expecting.

(Just for giggles and grins, I photographed the same scene at 4:35 in the morning when I had to let the dogs out. Behold. Black sky.)

Mind you, I could have messed with the contrast and made the sky a complete pitch black, but that’s not what I was going for. I live in the city, we have light pollution. Ergo, the sky will actually appear as a medium to dark grey, unlike if you’re in the countryside, away from cities and towns, and can get the true black sky captured. (Plus, I don’t have my tripod over here, so it makes it a bit harder to steady the camera, and that’s why the top photo is somewhat out of focus.

I look forward to playing with this phenomenon more in the future.

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Silver Blue, who sings along, “If you could see me now, just living my life in limbo…still burning in the afterglow…”

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