Australian Weather Calendar: March 2020

March Photograph by Martin Ascher

Lending a hand

While Martin Ascher has always had a love for photography, it's his passion for the local community that gives him the motivation to capture his hometown of Mallacoota through the lens. Having helped set up the Mallacoota Fundraising Group a few years ago, Martin now donates his images for a calendar that sees all proceeds go back to emergency services in the community. 'All of the emergency services here are voluntary, so we're very proud we've been able to make a contribution and support the people of Mallacoota,' Martin says. 'Here where we live, you can just about point the camera in any direction, and you'll get a beautiful picture. I just love the remoteness, it's unspoiled—you can walk all day and you won't pass a single person.' On this particular day, Martin says he got up early and noticed the colour in the sky, taking off before daybreak to photograph the amazing scene. 'There'd been bushfires in the area and it created the most spectacular sunrise, and to get the reflection off the water as well was just amazing.' He says having a camera in his hand has made him much more observant and appreciative of the environment around him. 'When I was three my mum gave me a magnifying glass, and I remember getting down on my hands and knees and looking among the grass and seeing all this activity magnified—and I'm still fascinated by it all today.'

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 of the blue light is scattered, leaving only red, orange and yellow shades in the direct beam. Pollution, dust, smoke and clouds reflect this light, creating a spectacular display of colour—in the case of this photograph, lingering smoke haze from recent bushfires is contributing to the bright orange glow. Alto, or middle-level cloud, such as the cloud shown here, tends to produce the most spectacular sunrises, while cirrus, or high-level cloud, also visible in the photo, can similarly produce a stunning display as the Sun comes up.