Here are a couple of photos, one just before sunset, the other just after, over the past month.

First up is a twilight view of South Coast Plaza. On Friday the 13th, we went to the nearest Borders to pick up The End of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events and Neil Gaiman’s new short story collection, Fragile Things. We ended up crossing the bridge over to the main section of the mall, turned around, and saw an amazing twilight display with clouds silhouetted against the blue.

We stopped to take pictures. We weren’t the only ones.

Twilight sky above the South Coast Plaza annex.

Perhaps an hour later, the rainstorm arrived.

Next up is from this past Monday, October 23. I was driving up the 405 after work and noticed that there were some feathery clouds in the right area, so I started looking for sundogs. Normally I don’t find anything. It’s Southern California, after all, so the right conditions are relatively rare. (Though occasionally I see something spectacular like the full halo I caught in February.)

To my surprise, I saw a faint bright spot in the clouds, level with and to the right of the sun. It got brighter over the course of my drive, with hints of red, orange and yellow creeping in on the sunward side: a classic sundog. Once I got onto city streets, I had a chance to stop and take a picture.

Picture of a sundog (October 23, 2006)

6 thoughts on “Evening Skies

  1. I’d never heard of “sundogs” and am not sure I’ve ever known anyone to comment on the “halo” effect. Interesting stuff.

    I was really struck by the contrast between the mall parking lot lighting and the sky.

  2. Thanks! This isn’t a terribly fast camera, so I had to prop it up against the railing so I could get natural lighting.

    I first encountered the term “sundog” a year or two ago when I saw a horizontal band of rainbow-like color in some clouds. I went looking for info on what it might be, found the site I linked to here, and since then I’ve kept an eye out for all different kinds of halos. Mostly I’ve spotted the occasional iridescent cloud, since you just don’t get the fine ice crystals needed for a lot of these effects in an area where it rarely gets below freezing. This is maybe the second or third sundog I’ve seen (and the first one I’ve caught with a decent photo), and I’ve only seen that one full-on circular halo.

  3. Ahh. I’ve seen some interesting stuff, on occasion, but I rarely catch’em on film. Not that it counts, but the one time I took a picture of a full “rainbow” (the entire circle), I don’t know what the HECK happened to it.

    That saddens me a lil.

    I’m curious. Were the violets tones that vibrant in real life (the ones from the first photo, I mean)?

  4. No, that’s just an effect of the long exposure. I think it was somewhere between 2 and 4 seconds. The sky is actually a little muted compared to the actual view, but the lights on the bridge and parking lot are brighter (in every sense of the word). And I remember those lights looking blue, not violet, but that could just be my memory being off. I tried to adjust the saturation on the image to bring out the sky a bit better, but I’m not good at adjusting just one part of a photo and having it still match.

  5. I’m not great with the more advanced (though increasingly common) methods of photo editing. “Not great” is an understatement, actually.

    I get you on the “exposure” thing, now. For a long time, I had no clue what that meant. Now, that I remember and have a fraction of a clue (due to having messed around with some low-light shots here and there) I get why you wanted to use a stable base to get that shot.

    Anyway, it’s a nice shot. It’s funny how these things turn out, sometimes.

    For Example.
    That’s just a quick pic I took with my smartphone and it doesn’t look EXACTLY like the real thing, but I like it and I like the ones you shared.


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