Let’s Preserve the Skies!

Smog obscures sun and sky on an August morning in Beijing, 2016.

“Some call me nature, others call me Mother Nature. … How you choose to live each day, whether you regard or disregard me, doesn’t really matter to me. One way or the other, your actions will determine your fate, not mine. I am nature. I will go on. I am prepared to evolve. Are you?”
—Julia Roberts, Nature is Speaking: Mother Nature, Conservation International

Too often these days smog obscures the beauty of the sky. Sometimes this smog comes from natural sources like erupting volcanos or natural forest fires. More often, though, smog is human-made, caused by emissions from industrial production, transportation, or burning of coal or wood.

I sincerely hope that looking at pictures of the sky on this website, seeing the multitude of colors and the beauty therein, will make you realize how precious the sky is. And that it is worth preserving, for us and for generations to come.

Where Do the Rainbows in the Sky Come From?

Pace, 2015.

“Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.”
—Matthew 5:9

Rainbows are multicolored arcs that appear when sunlight illuminates little drops of airborne water. They can be seen when sunlight from behind an observer illuminates water droplets in front. After a sunbeam enters a water droplet, it hits the back of the droplet and is partly reflected. Due to their different wavelengths, the different colors of the sunbeam exit the water droplet at different angles and a rainbow appears. The colors of a rainbow show the visible color spectrum of sunlight from violet in the inner ring to red in the outer ring. The second arc of a double rainbow shows the colors reversed.

Rainbows are optical illusions and not objects with a distinct location. The sun, the water droplets, and the observer must be in a specific lineup for a rainbow to be seen. Different observers will see different rainbows depending on their location.

Through the Lens

by GG and her camera

“You put your camera around your neck in the morning, along with putting on your shoes, and there it is, an appendage of the body that shares your life with you. The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
—Dorothea Lange, A Photographer’s Life, 1978, p. vii

I just love my camera! It helps me capturing not only images but moments, situations, atmosphere, life. It slows me down and makes me pay attention to details I would maybe miss otherwise. Often though, I do not take my big camera with me but rather its smaller sister, a compact camera with a good zoom lens. While I love the options and possibilities of a full-frame system camera, it is still a lot to carry around. And sometimes, I simply use my mobile phone, even though I usually miss having a real zoom then…

And yes, I notice that this slowing down and paying attention to detail now also happens when I do not have my camera with me. I then take pictures with my inner camera. Unfortunately, the storage device I then use does not always work as well as an SD card…

Where Do the Colors of Clouds Come From?

Rosy Clouds, 2015.

”The sun had recently set, and the west heaven was hung with rosy cloud, which seemed permanent, yet slowly changed. To watch it was like looking at some grand feat of stagery from a darkened auditorium.”
Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge – The Life and Death of a Man of Character, 1902, Chapter 1

The scattering of sunlight is responsible for the wonderful colors of the sky. But it is also responsible for the equally beautiful colors of clouds. However, the individual droplets of water which form a cloud are much bigger than the molecules present in the air. And unlike the atmosphere’s scattering effect, the scattering effect of a cloud scatters all wavelengths. This explains why clouds usually appear white to us.

The thicker a cloud is, the more sunlight is blocked, making the cloud appear grey. In the absence of direct sunlight, clouds can reflect the color of the sky and may, for example, appear bluish. The amazing colors of clouds at twilight are caused by both the scattering effect of the atmosphere and of the clouds themselves, giving us clouds in a multitude of yellow, orange, and red hues.