The Green Flash

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Learn from 
award-winning photographer Alex Conu

Sunsets are awesome and taking the time to appreciate a good sunset seems to evaporate the stresses of the day and transports you to the surreal space between night and day. It’s little wonder that our ancestors described the boundary between night and day in many different ways as they watched the warmth giving sun slip away to reveal the night. A sunset on a flat horizon is very special – especially when you don’t often get the chance to see one and watching the disk disappear through the horizon is almost meditative – of course exercising extreme care so you don’t burn your eyes. I don’t know what the most photographed thing is on the internet, though it’s probably a cat, but I could imagine that sunset photographs must rate near the top. Capturing the perfect sunset must be a prime desire of many photographers and, of course, that desire did not escape me (with my cell phone).

So it’s all very interesting talking about sunsets but the real reason to discuss these today is the elusive green flash. I don’t remember ever having seen the green flash before but in the evening of the above photo I certainly did see it. Unfortunately a glitch with the camera meant we missed the opportunity to photograph that elusive atmospheric phenomenon. The green flash occurs just as the very last edge of the sun’s disc disappears below the horizon. Basically what is happening is the light from the sun is being separated into a spectrum through the atmosphere. The blue light is scattered away and the green briefly appears before the disc disappears. So if you find a nice horizon and set yourself up for the sunset you might be able to photograph the green flash – good luck!