I was browsing, and found this gem, which has distinct hues of pink and purple. I am curious so as to how the photo has shades that it has. Was it edited later? Do such colors really occur while the sun sets?

  • IMHO this looks like infrared photography of a sunset.
    – Eimantas
    Jul 30, 2011 at 6:39

2 Answers 2


From the looks of it there is also a bluish cast to the ground on the bottom of the photograph so I wouldn't be surprised if they used a blue graduated filter inserted so the darkest part of the filter was at the bottom of the frame. Likewise, a red graduated filter would also make the sunset more intense and could be inserted such that the deepest red is at the top of the frame.

Looking though the other photographs in their gallery I notice that the color schemes to keep appearing so it is unnatural that they are all naturally occurring sunsets and in one of the photographs he confirms that he uses Lee filters when he takes the photographs.

  • I agree with RobZ here. I am a user of Lee filters myself, as they make some truly fantastic filters. It is quite common for the heavy ND filtration to cause a hue shift towards the violets, and Lee also provides a variety of sunset and sunrise ND and NDGrad filters with blue tints that can also create this effect.
    – jrista
    Jul 31, 2011 at 3:34

The sunset colours are due to Rayleigh scattering, which is when particles in the atmosphere scatter certain light so it doesn't reach you. When the sun is high in the sky the particles scatter red wavelength light, leaving blue and hence the sky looks blue. However during sunset and sunrise the blue is scattered due to the different angle of the light and the length it must travel through the atmosphere to reach your eyes, thus the light looks more red during sunset & sunrise.

  • I'm not sure the linked photo is entirely due to Rayleigh scattering effect...if you look at the foreground, it has a heavy unnatural blueish/purplish hue to it as well. I would say that, more than from Rayleigh scattering, there was either some colored filtration or graduated filtration used...or the white point was edited to achieve such an unusual color cast. In my experience, most natural sunsets don't quite have such intense and vibrant purples in them, and when you examine the artist equipment comments of "purple sunsets", filtration, often heavy filtration, was usually used.
    – jrista
    Jul 31, 2011 at 3:31
  • I agree with you jrista and in fact the photo has been tagged as having colour filters applied, I would say a sunset filter was added to the front of the lens. I edited my answer to make it clearer that I was answering the question asking if such colours occur during sunset ... they definitely can, such as this sunrise which I took myself with no filters and no post editing ... thetrueshot.com/Photographs/Pages/Sunrise.html#10 Jul 31, 2011 at 4:22
  • 1
    I understand that sunsets can have bright reds and oranges...its the violets and purples that are not particularly natural. Those (violets and purples) are high-frequency colors, exactly the opposite of the low-frequency orange and reds you usually get after the sun has dropped below the horizon. My point was, orange and red IS natural, but the violet is usually the result of filtration that adds color cast, or creative license with white balance during post processing.
    – jrista
    Jul 31, 2011 at 6:02

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