Scranton, Pennsylvania, calls itself ‘The Electric City.’ While even a local patriot would admit that winters here are grim and socked-in and bleak, the city, or rather, this part of Northeastern Pennsylvania, is gifted with really good atmospherics and its fair share of splendid sunsets in the other seasons, and even in the ‘cusp-y’ parts of the winter.

Figure 1. Scranton sunset with crescent moon. Photo: author.

Figure 1, taken yesterday, is a good example of this. A thin crescent moon enlivens a mass of cirrus clouds tinged an orange color by the setting sun.

Figure 2. Scranton sunset wave. Photo: author.

The alert reader will have seen that there is a neat expanding pattern in the cirrus clouds at the left of figure 1: taken on its own, it is figure 2. To me it looks like a wave washing in from the bottom of the photo.

Figure 3. Scranton sunset with cirrus wisps. Photo: author.

Pink streaked the sky 90 degrees west of the sun (figure 3), and in the end the clouds took on an almost iridescent look (figure 4). Haze in the sky also picked up the red and gave the sky a sort of purple color, which was pretty.

Figure 4. Scranton sunset with iridescent reds. Photo: author.

It is a weakness of the iPhone that it creates shallow bit-depth images and is accordingly poor at registering low-contrast images, or parts of images. You can see this problem in the reds and grays in all four figures here. In addition, cameras expose for the brightness of a certain tone of gray in an image, and do so in defiance of bright reds like sunsets. Red tends to overexpose anyway, and rare is an iPhone sunset photo of mine, at any rate, where the histogram is not off the charts to the right in the reds.

I do not mean to pick especially on iPhones. As a (very modest) shareholder, I hope you buy one for every pocket you have! But tap on the brightest red part of a sunset if you are taking a picture with an iPhone and draw the little light icon down a bit if you care more about the play of reds than the elements in the shadows.

iPhone XS with native camera software.

Figure 1. 26 mm, f/1.8, photographic sensitivity 40, 1/121 s.
Figure 2. 26 mm, f/1.8, photographic sensitivity 50, 1/121 s.
Figure 3. 26 mm, f/1.8, photographic sensitivity 50, 1/121 s.
Figure 4. 70 mm, f/2.4, photographic sensitivity 125, 1/122 s.

Edited with Apple Photos (desktop). If you look carefully you’ll see many “retouching” artifacts. These photos were taken in a supermarket parking lot with lots of wires and lights interrupting the horizon.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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