In a previous post called “The Golden Hour,” I explained how rays from the setting sun change color as they travel through large volumes of atmosphere close to the ground.
As the light passes nearer to the surface of the earth, more and more blue wavelengths are scattered out by fine particles of dust and by the air molecules themselves, with only the longer reddish wavelengths remaining. In other words, the light gets dimmer and redder as it approaches to the earth’s shadow line.
You can see this effect most dramatically while facing away from the sun to see how its light looks on an iceberg, a thunderhead, or a snowy mountain.
This painting by Frederic Church, shows the progression of colors traveling down the column of ice from soft yellows through the rosy hues to a more neutral gray.
This painting by the seascape master Frederick Waugh shows a similar sequence of color on a very tall cloud. The reddish rays toward the base of the cloud arrived after passing through much more atmosphere than the whiter rays touching the top of the cloud.
By the way, as you compare the Church and Waugh paintings, note how differently each of them portrayed the color of the water and the color of the distant sky.
Although stated a bit more garishly, here’s the effect of color bands on Mount Shasta at sunset, painted by James E. Stuart in 1921. Link for more Shasta paintings.
"Golden Hour" post on GurneyJourney, link.