a surprise skunk?

In landscape photography, we often call it a "skunk" if the light, well, sucks. A skunk is especially painful if it LOOKS like it could be great, but fizzles at the last possible moment.


A feast for the eyes of hopeful photographers all over the Bay Area this evening, the clouds were BEAUTIFUL just before sunset, inspiring photographers to head out to the coast, city, and other vantage points.

[image: Steve (Birdo) Guisinger,   NRB Photography  ]

[image: Steve (Birdo) Guisinger, NRB Photography]


Some might have questioned the escaype prediction of very little post-sunset color, save for a few high clouds at 5.5km height that would catch yellow-orange light about 6 degrees above the horizon to the west-southwest, 1-3 minutes after sunset.


Ten minutes before sunset, as the undersides of the clouds began to catch some pleasant pre-burn light, even we, the cotton candy team, were biting our nails a bit. We'd told a handful of people to stay home, so we'd better not be wrong, or they'd miss an epic shot! The picture text messages of "look at this epic sunset I'm about to get!" began to flood my phone. Well... this could be awkward.


Suddenly, three minutes after sunset, as if someone had pulled the stage curtain early, all the light vanished, clouds disappeared, and the color was gone. Whew! We were safe.

[image: Yan Larsen, Yan L Photography]

[image: Yan Larsen, Yan L Photography]


But what happened to all those high clouds that we'd seen 20 minutes before? Had they really evaporated that fast? And why did that light die, anyway? And how did we know that there would be a few high clouds about 6 degrees above the western horizon that would catch some light? 

Well, the short answer is, there were clouds on the horizon, but in reality things are more complicated. That's why we let the computer churn the numbers. Say hello to escaype. :) 

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