Australian Weather Calendar: August 2019

August photograph by Peter O'Donnell

Views from the verandah

The Clarence River in Yamba has long held a special place in Peter O'Donnell's heart, stemming from when he used to caravan there with his wife and kids more than 30 years ago. These days Peter lives in Yamba and has the luxury of watching the sun set over the Clarence from his back verandah, a view he never gets tired of. 'There's a fair amount of scenery around this area,' he says of the Northern Rivers district, which inspires him to take his camera wherever he goes. Peter first started using a ‘box Brownie' camera as a kid and has steadily upgraded his equipment over the years. He says it's so much easier now with digital cameras compared to roll film, but says one of the joys of weather photography is that you're always learning. And what better place to master the art than right here on his back verandah?

The science

The beautiful colours often seen at sunrise and sunset are formed by the interaction of light from the sun with the Earth’s atmosphere. At sunrise and sunset, the sun is very low on the horizon and the sunlight has a longer path through the atmosphere. As the light travels through the atmosphere, more blue and green light is scattered—leaving only red, orange and yellow hues in the direct beam. Pollution, dust and clouds reflect this light, creating a spectacular display of colour. Alto, or mid-level cloud, such as the cloud shown in this photo, tends to produce the most spectacular sunsets. Cirrus, or high-level cloud can also produce a stunning display as the sun goes down.