Thursday, September 22, 2011

Autumn light

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Fall has arrived and the autumn equinox is September 23! This Friday, September 23, the autumn equinox will take place at precisely 9:04 a.m. The autumn equinox occurs once a year when the earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the sun. This means that the hours of daylight and night time are exactly the same: 12 hours of day, 12 hours of night.

After September 23rd, the earth's axis, and the North Pole, will begin to tilt away from the sun. The sun rises lower and lower in the sky so the days start getting shorter until December's shortest day of the year. This creates wonderful long shadows that stretch across the ground during autumn and early winter.

The zoo is a perfect place to watch these shadows move, since we have so many tall trees and open spaces. Artists and photographers should take advantage of this time of year. The light is softer in the fall, because the sun's rays are not as direct. There is also a crisp fall look to the landscape and if you are lucky, a bright blue sky. Backlighting is more likely to occur, making the golden leaves appear to glow!

Early morning and late evening is the best time to capture a really warm golden light. This is when the sun is lowest in the sky. The light tends to be more golden and will cast warmth over subjects while creating vibrant colors. This golden hour takes place an hour and a half after sunrise and forty-five minutes before and after the sunset.

Woodland Park Zoo is one of the best places to witness the changing colors of the season. There is a 49% canopy cover here at the zoo and many of the deciduous species will soon start to change into their fall foliage. Now is a really fascinating time to visit the grounds and compare the seasonal changes week to week.

Some trees will get their fall colors very quickly and some will take longer. The evergreens of course, will continue to stay green, but have you checked out the White Spruces on the Northern Trail? Their dark blue-green color is beautiful and makes a great contrast to the bright oranges, reds and yellows that will appear on the deciduous trees. Even the ornamental grasses at the African Village will change, forming seed heads.

Are you interested in learning more about our fall foliage and autumn flowers? Check out our What’s in bloom at the zoo? guide, provided by our expert horticulturalist David Selk.

If you happen to capture any autumn shadows dancing across the paths on your way to see our animals, please share your photos and drawings with us!

Photos (from top): Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo, Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo, Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo, Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo, Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

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