The Importance of a 23.5 Degree Angle

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The spot on earth where I live, rolls through a glorious procession of four clear seasons. We are far enough North here in the UK for the light to change a little every single day. I say lucky because it prevents boredom and encourages the idea of impermanence, both of which can increase happiness. As a photographer I love the constant change, and this time of year sees me drawn down close to the earth and into the lengthening shadows.

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The shadows have become so wonderfully long because of that angle of 23.5 degrees. It’s the angle the earth is tilted, and it means that as we roll through autumn the sun peeps lower and lower over the horizon. At midday it is now still so low that it dazzles the eye, and days become so short that the trees can no longer produce enough energy from its light. They close down, releasing their leaves and sealing their pores until the days begin lengthen again in Spring. Those glorious piles of scrunchy leaves are a result of that angle of tilt.

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I find that the angles I’m drawn to shoot from change with the seasons, and in autumns shrinking light I’m shooting very low to match the angle of the light. The leaves which gather along paths and in corners give lovely texture and colour to the foregrounds, pulling us on into the picture. So you could say that as the sun sinks you will find me on my knees often.

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The other wonderful result of this angle of tilt, is that sunrise and sunset can be easily captured without having to resort to rising at some horribly unsocial hour. It also gives us lots of opportunity for night shots, as we wander around in what would have been the middle of the day just a few months ago.
Because of the angle of tilt, we can easily see that we live in a world where the only permanence is change. The lesson is all around us if we open our eyes and look…..

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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46 Responses to The Importance of a 23.5 Degree Angle

  1. Lovely captures of silhouettes and shadows, Seonaid. Somehow, with the talk of changing seasons and light, the artist Claude Monet comes to mind. I love his hay bale series, how their textured appearance evolved with the seasons.

  2. It’s the best light of the year. You can keep summer, with it’s harsh shadows (if there is sun). Fall slipping to winter is best. Beautiful shots, Mrs.

  3. gwynnrogers says:

    Aren’t you glad that you don’t HAVE to rake all of those leaves! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Right now our skies are dark and cloudy so we are not seeing the interesting shadows that you show in your intriguing and gorgeous pictures. Did you receive any of my emails as I received a “bounce-back.”

  4. Dina says:

    Wonderful post with most interesting perspectives, Seonaid!

  5. icelandpenny says:

    Along with texture & changing colours, there is also the crunch & pungency of fallen leaves. Your post about aromas notes the power of smell, the fact that an olfactory memory can be as vivid as a visual one.

  6. LB says:

    I never thought about the 23.5 Degree Angle. Nice explanation and lovely photos to accompany it

  7. Leya says:

    Lovely take o this – and you almost make me like this season again…But, we have had 1 (one) hour of sun this November – that is really more than a sane person can take if he or she wants to stay sane. You seem to have more light!

    • Oh but it really is a beautiful season…..and yes I think we have been lucky to have had a good dose of light since we got back from our trip, although I believe it was quite grey and gloomy while we were gone! I do struggle without any light, and it’s very uninspiring for photographs ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  8. Gorgeous Seonaid – what a beautiful light worker you are! The light and shadow in your words shines just as bright as the images, thank you.

    • Amanda, what a lovely comment, thank you. Light and shadow can create such wonderful places to play, and I’m delighted that you enjoyed the words as much as the images….they get all sort of woven together and tangled…..hard to know which came first sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Robin says:

    Beautiful images of the long shadows, Seonaid. I love this time of year too, for the reasons you mentioned. It’s especially nice to be able to watch the sunrise at a time of day when I feel awake. lol!

  10. pommepal says:

    Lovely angles capturing the feeling of autumn and I can hear those scrunchy leaves as you scuff your way through them.

    • That feeling of autumn has to come with scrunchy leaves I feel….I do hate a soggy autumn!
      I thought it might all have been over by the time we got from our trip, but it has lingered soft and warm this year ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Liana says:

    “the long drama of autumn shadows”

    as fine a writer as shooter ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Amy says:

    You really captured the lighting, magnificent! Each presents a different angle ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. You’ve done well to capture that essence of autumn. Although the Solstice will not occur until 12/21, what was autumn here has been gone for several weeks. Your images are suggestive of warmth … is it still a bit warm where you are? We were down to 11F yesterday but were thankful that we’ve got no snow on the ground yet. Thanks for another soulful post. Oh … forgot to mention that your observations on change and happiness … one resulting in the other … I will try and remember that. D

    • Our last leaves are still clinging stubbornly to the almost bare branches, but one more high wind and we will have surrendered to winter here too…..it’s been such a mild autumn that the roses are still blooming in the garden! Although the temperature is slowly creeping down its only just beginning to drop below 10 Celsius in the day, and we haven’t had frost yet!
      Recognising and accepting the flow of change and impermanence which is the world we live in can be very liberating….helping us to stop clinging on too tight….I might write a post about it soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. You have some really wonderful shots here, Seonaid. Your really making the most of that 23.5ยบ angle. ๐Ÿ™‚ Beautiful autumn leaves, and I love those long tree shadows.

    • Those long tree shadows are so dramatic…..I can never resist catching them…..the play of low dazzling light and the dark edges to the days are very evocative I feel. Delighted to hear you liked the shots.

  15. Nice post. Nice photos. I once lived in a far north destination and enjoyed noticing the perceptible change in daylight (or darkness, if you prefer). Fascinating.

  16. Norm 2.0 says:

    These are all wonderful. I share your sentiments about the great light and shadows at this time of year. Here unfortunately the snow has come early and that makes it a little more challenging to get good outdoor shots.

    • Norm, are you in the middle of the snow storm….it looks so dramatic, and as you say rather early. Nature does like to keep us on our toes…..never repeating herself! I hope you manage to get out into the white stuff to catch some shots once the weather improves a bit ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. poppytump says:

    A lovely evocative response to the WP theme angles Seonaid . Perfect in fact , As you’ve mentioned a great contrast to the light in the tropics … well worth dropping to your knees for such photos ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love the leaf scattered back lane …

    • Delighted you enjoyed my twist on the angles theme so much Poppy. I seem to be on my knees quite a lot at the moment….we’ve had such lovely light filled days….short but beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Sue Vincent says:

    The colours of autumn are perhaps my favourites, and with the contrast of light and shade the world seldom looks lovelier. Beautiful photos, Seonaid, and a lovely thought at the end too.

  19. Nelson says:

    I did not remember the 23.5 number but I was a fan of it because of the long shadows …. l love the photo with the shadow of the fence

    • I’m a fan too Nelson, for the same long shadows…they have wonderful drama!
      The fence shadow is the entrance to Duddingston church yard in Edinburgh, right under Arthurs seat. It’s a lovely spot, and catches the winter light beautifully.

  20. Love the photo of the shadows from the fence line. We raked for the last time this week and have the snow stakes in the ground to be ready for the snow. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I can never resist long autumn shadows!
      We have cleared most of our leaves, but a few still linger on the trees waiting for that last tug of wind. It’s been so mild that it’s hard to imagine it might snow soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. katieprior says:

    Wonderful photos, the autumn light is looking beautiful where you are. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I can never understand when people say they are bored, all you have to do is observe the day, wherever you are. Lovely images Seonaid and I knew you would come up with a unique response for the WPC.

    • So true Gilly, delighted you enjoyed my twist on the theme…..I’ve been even more aware of the low light this year after returning from the tropics where the sun is high and bright. Amazing how things can be so different at different points on the planet

  23. Such lovely photos!! Love the shadows in the second pic.

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