GratiTuesday: The Colors of Fall

I have been enjoying the photos many bloggers have posted of their gorgeous autumn foliage. The rich reds, oranges, and yellows are truly spectacular and make me wish we had the same seasonal brilliance where we live. Except for a few liquid ambers dotting our neighborhood, our temperatures don’t get cold enough for most of the trees that produce the glorious fall displays.

Fortunately for us, even though we don’t have the blazing foliage colors enjoyed in colder climates, nature paints her brilliant fall hues on a different canvas. Rather than the reds, oranges, and yellows appearing in the trees, these colors are splashed across the sky.


There is, of course, a scientific reason why fall and winter sunrises and sunsets are so spectacular. As the days grow shorter, the angle of the sun is lower which means that the sunlight takes a longer path through the atmosphere. Since blue light has a shorter wavelength, it gets scattered by air molecules. Colors with longer wavelengths, such as reds and oranges, become more pronounced as they pass through the atmosphere.


Clouds also add to the beauty of sunrises and sunsets because they catch the red-orange rays of the sun and help reflect the colors. Cirrus and altocumulus clouds are especially conducive to spectacular displays because they are high enough not to be impacted by the dust and haze in the atmosphere.

But, enough science…

Fall’s colors are magnificent no matter how they are made or what canvas they appear on. Each time I am treated to the beauty of a dazzling sunrise or a vivid sunset, I am so grateful to be a witness to nature’s artistry. Because, to quote the great Dr. Seuss, “when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing”.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

77 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: The Colors of Fall”

  1. I learned something new today … something about wave lengths, angle of the sun, and fall sunsets. The science might make my eyes glaze over, but the effect is spectacular!! That first photo is oh-my-god beautiful!

    1. I always knew that the sunrises and sunsets were more spectacular in the fall but I didn’t know why until I looked it up on the googles. That sunrise got me out of bed much earlier than I wanted, but I was happy that I made the effort.

  2. Beautiful photos! I appreciate that you appreciate. 🙂 Today I posted on Instagram a very simple photo of the San Gabriel Mountains taken from my front yard–not great photography, but simply appreciating that the sky is clear and it’s been a beautiful day. This is a lovely time of year and your photos are very special!

  3. Gorgeous pictures, and I love the science, too! Remembering to slow down and take in the beauty. For me, that is very important. Keeps me centered, and places me in nature, in context with the universe.

  4. Lovely. I didn’t exactly know that about fall & winter sunsets/rises. I’m always looking for clouds in the sky, which are somewhat rare in this little patch of too-much-blue. 😉

  5. Our fall show has been delayed by unseasonably warm weather. I think we just hit our peak today. The trees are VERY confused.
    Great shots of sunrise and sunset.

  6. I LOVE these photos, Janis. I’m going to try to paint the sunset one. Even if I’m not able to achieve it, I’ll be happy to gaze at the picture for the hours it takes to try to recreate it.

  7. Living on the Canadian west coast, I get to enjoy fabulous fall colours as well as amazing sunrises and sunsets. Because of the colours, it is my favourite time of the year to paint. Although, I have to admit that I see far more sunsets than sunrises.


  8. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos – and the science behind them too! That is really interesting. (Although in 7th grade, I would have been bored silly by it!) We do have the random tree here and there that does it’s best to change colors; there is one near our house and I look forward to watching it change every year.

    1. We had one that my dad planted in front of my childhood home. I guess it was his way of bringing a bit of the east coast (where he grew up) to Southern California. It was beautiful – but, ugh… raking up the fallen leaves!

  9. Wow, Janis. Your photos are absolutely stunning. And I LOVE the Dr. Suess quote. Looking forward to tomorrow!

  10. Dr Seuss is so right! There is so much beauty around us every single day, we only need to stop long enough to take the time to look. Your skies are incredible!

  11. I had no idea that there was a reason Fall sunsets were so beautiful! And I love this perspective, too…that the colors of Fall aren’t necessarily limited to trees. Just goes to show there is beauty in every environment if we’re willing to see it.

  12. Janis, beautiful pics. Our fall season in the nearby NC mountains is about three weeks passed normal peak season. This is likely due to our warmer climate which continues to push back the start of the pre-winter cold. In our yard, we have stuff blooming now, that should not be blooming. Keith

  13. I’ll have to enjoy your colorful photos because our fall has been a flop. The colors, not so much. The rain, too much. Fortunately I agree with Dr. Seuss, and can get on with being amazed virtually via you.

    1. So many people have been disappointed this year… yet the pictures of the leaves in other areas have been stunning. Dr. Seuss was definitely right… but sometimes we have to “look around” a little harder. Happy fall!

  14. Hi Janis! I didn’t know that!!! I guess I sort of expected the sunsets to be really really nice in the spring and fall but had no idea there was a scientific reason for it. Thank you for that. And yes, I agree that we do have seasons here in California but they tend to be much more subtle than in places where all the trees turn. Your photos are gorgeous…thanks for sharing them! ~Kathy

  15. Beautiful photos, colors and explanation, Janis. One of these days, I will catch a sunset at Sunset Cliffs! I walked the dogs there, the other day, but had errands to run and couldn’t wait the half an hour until the sun would dip behind the ocean. Many other tourists where there with their cameras! Thanks again for the tour!!

  16. Dr Suess was a very wise man! Your sunsets are amazing and something to be very grateful for. I find the sunsets to be kind of ‘Meh’ given our proximity to the equator, but I saw a couple of doozies while visiting Northern Vietnam. Sadly, I was on traveling on highways or rails when I saw them, so the only images I have are in my mind.

  17. Interesting sunset science. Also, one major advantage of your fall colors are that you don’t have anything to rake up afterwards.

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