Alpenglow

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Chugach, Photos, Travel 18 Comments

Alpenglow on Resurrection Peaks, Chugach National Forest, near Seward, Alaska.

Alpenglow on Resurrection Peaks, Chugach National Forest, near Seward, Alaska.

This is looking North, directly away from one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen in Seward – the same morning of my recent post on sunrise over Resurrection Bay.  This has to be the most dramatic, colorful alpenglow I have ever seen.

I must confess, I have often mis-used the word alpenglow.  Thanks to blog reader Aaron for setting me straight on my welcome home post.  As Aaron pointed out, and further research confirmed, alpengow is the pink glow you see while the sun is still below the horizon.  There can not be a direct path of light from the sun to the mountain.  So that red / orange light shinning on snow caped peaks at the beginning or end of the day isn’t really alpenglow – I have been mis-identifying it for years.  I don’t know what it is called – sweet mountain light I guess.

This is pretty much straight out of the camera.  I added a little contrast to the mid-tones, but I didn’t add any color or saturation.

Comments 18

  1. This is beautiful Ron! I misunderstood the definition of Alpenglow too, until recently when I was about to misuse the word. I thought it meant the same thing you did.

  2. The strawberry ice-cream effect was something we enjoyed behind Anchorage with the view from Fire Island in the early ’60s. Even better from up close at Ft. Richardson. The late sunrise/sunset didn’t even spoil our sleep for the view. Lasts a VERY long time because of the shallow sun angle around the horizon. (The S-48 folks don’t know about a sun trajectory of 20 degrees or lower around the horizon.)

  3. Technically I think its “Sweet sweet mountain light”, but some might inject an explicative or two when in the field “Sweet @#$%! sweet $#@$%& mountain light!!!”. Interesting about what “alpenglow” really is, but what is more interesting to me is this great photo. Amazing color!!! This must have been a jaw dropping moment to witness in person.

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  6. Yes, I guess that is right. My brother-in-law tried to tell me the same thing, saying that it is reflected light, but I guess I don’t understand reflected from where, the clouds? Guess I’d better research it further since the definition in my Websters is not clear. I know what we see in Estes Park is referred to as alpenglow, but it is the light cast from the sun on the mountains as it is rising, rather than before sunrise or sunset. Guess the term has grown to become something else — in the US anyway. It’s like the term “switchback” which I believe technically means a curve that is too tight to go around so a train must go past the curve on an extension of the track and then continue up the next leg backwards. My uncle always refused to use the term when talking about “hairpin” turns, but that copy of Websters that I’ve been referring to refers to winding or zigzag roads, so it must be legit. Maybe “alpenglow” will one day be a legitimate description of the warm glow we see on the mountains at sunrise from our homes — if it isn’t already, at least colloquially.

    Now what is velvia? My copy of Websters doesn’t say.

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    Hi Joni,

    Yeah, it is light reflecting off of clouds or the atmosphere. I was telling a friend the same thing – the term has been misused for so long, that it may become legitmate. Switchback is a great example, I hadn’t thought about it.

    Velvia is slide film made by Fuji that was very popular with nature photographers, including myself, because it captured extra rich colors. This was before the days of digital.

    Thanks,

    Ron

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