Lord Rayleigh, sunsets, and pro audio – who knew?!

A fiery Massachusetts sunset in winter.

It’s a small, small world. I just had another one of those weird moments where disparate parts of my life have connected each other, and I have a 19th century physicist named Lord Rayleigh to thank for it.

As many of you know, I love photographing the sky. The colors at sunrise and sunset just can’t be mimicked in a studio. Photographers call that the “golden hour” or “magic hour” ¬†– the first and last hours of light in a day. In New England during the winter, magic hour lasts closer to 15 minutes but, under the right conditions, you can capture some stunning photos in that short period of time.

I’ve only had a few occasions to capture a red sunset where I live so I started reading up on why some sunsets look like the one in this photo and why others don’t look as dramatic. The effect is called Rayleigh scattering, which also explains why the sky is blue.

Oddly, Lord Rayleigh entered my life a while ago since he also write a book in 1877 called “The Theory of Sound,” whose principles are still in use by acoustic engineers today. ¬†Lord Rayleigh is also a personal hero to our friend Dave, who happens to be one of the most talented loudspeaker designers at work today.

For me, I’m learning that photography has alot to teach someone if they will open their eyes and ears to other subjects. Read more, think more, and the connections between seemingly disparate things will appear right in front of you.

Magic hour in Providence, RI.
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