Horsetail Waterfall

by College Student

What causes the effect of indecresent light off the granite,through the waterfall?

Comments for Horsetail Waterfall

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Feb 27, 2012
by: World of Waterfalls

I'm not sure what is meant by indecresent, but I presume you mean what makes the falls glow like it's on fire?

I'd imagine it's purely a combination a couple of things (to see when the condition is right, see the Horsetail Falls page).
1) The angle at which the light strikes the water and the angle from which you're seeing it. This makes the water "glow".

Light has to hit water spray in a trajectory that is normal (perpendicular) to your line of sight. You can recreate this by looking at a lawn being sprinkled and positioning yourself such that your line of sight is perpendicular to the trajectory that the sun's light is hitting the water.

2) The color of the light in the first place. If you do this at sunset (especially in the Winter when the sun is low on the horizon), this makes the glow in the water orangish-red.

The redder the light, the longer the wavelength of light. The more blue the light, the shorter the wavelength of light. You can think of the soft light at sunset (made even softer by the sun being low on the horizon in Winter) as the light having to travel through a bunch of gases in the atmosphere thereby scattering most of the light's energy and thereby making it redder (less energy => longer wavelength).

Hope this helps.

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