Sunset-Painted Sky of Western Utah

January 02, 2013

Sunset-Painted Sky of Western Utah

Photographer: Ray Boren
Summary Author: Ray Boren

Stratified clouds of diverse shapes and styles artfully decorated the big sky west of Salt Lake City, Utah, at sunset, as captured in this photograph taken on September 10, 2012. The day had been an occasionally rainy one in the area with brief localized downpours but only sporadic sprinkles in other places nearby. The evening clouds reflected this disorganized storm behavior and a few stray raindrops fell even at this hour.

At sunset and during twilight the western horizon beyond the Stansbury Mountains and the Bonneville Salt Flats opened enough to allow the low setting Sun to paint the motley clouds in shades of orange and red. These include, in the high center of the photo, mammatus characteristics – bulbous puffs that can develop as a result of cold downdrafts on the undersides of anvil-shaped cumulonimbus storm clouds. When the Sun is beyond the horizon like this, the longer path length of its light tends to scatter out shorter wavelength colors, such as indigo and blue, allowing us to marvel at the oranges and burnt scarlets of the visible spectrum.

Photo details: Camera Maker: NIKON CORPORATION; Camera Model: NIKON D60; Focal Length: 112.0mm; Aperture: f/4.8; Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250); ISO equiv: 200; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB; Software: QuickTime 7.6.4.