Sky Color, Clouds, and the Best Times of Day to Photograph

Colorful sunrises and sunsets are exciting.  As our day winds down, a colorful sunset sky above gives us pause to stop and look around.

Whether or not this morning’s sunrise will be stunning or a dud is low on most people’s priority list.  As nature photographers, we strive to photograph beautifully colored skies and landscapes.  We need to set up our tripods in a scenic location before the magical light begins.  How can we know when the sunrise or sunset will be good?

Since getting up well before dawn and situating ourselves in an ideal spot requires fortitude and lots of coffee, we prefer to reduce the guesswork on whether or not we stay in bed or do the hard work for a chance of excellent morning sky.

We can improve our photography by understanding why the sunrise and sunset sky colors vary.  Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to anticipate when beautiful skies will occur.

I genuinely enjoy looking at the sky conditions each day and seeing how well I can predict the sunset show.

Sunset over the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico.  When the low angle and warm-colored light at dawn and dusk can illuminate the undersides of clouds, they become red.  The shadow of the mountain range is seen on the virga.