Sunset and Specular Reflection at Great Salt Lake

May 06, 2016


Photographer: Ray Boren
Summary Author: Ray Boren

Stranded in the Great Basin desert with no outlet to the sea, Utah’s terminal Great Salt Lake lacks the hypnotic romance of Earth’s picturesque, surf-churned ocean shores, most people would agree. But in one regard, the lake regularly awes spectators at the edge of day in ways the ebb-and-flow beaches of the Seven Seas usually do not: Relatively shallow, yet vast and often placid, the lake’s surface can be a truly impressive mirror.

Photographers have discovered that sunset, in particular, can produce spectacular panoramas along the northern shores and bays of Great Salt Lake’s Antelope Island, where a highway on the seven-mile-long Davis County Causeway connects the island (and state park) to the urban and suburban Wasatch Front communities near Salt Lake City. That's where this photograph was taken, at sunset on March 18, 2016.

With just the right amount of textured cloudiness to help capture the effect, the western sky is turning orange and red as the path length of the Sun’s visible light increases, scattering out those shorter wavelength colors. At the same time, Great Salt Lake’s shallow waters and calm surface offer an ideal medium for specular reflection — the mirror-like bounce of the evening light.

Photo Details: Camera Model: NIKON D3200; Lens: AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED; Focal Length: 70mm (35mm equivalent: 105mm); Aperture: ƒ/4.5; Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125); ISO equiv: 180; Software: Photos 1.0.1.