Book review: “Color and light in nature”


If eco-travel is all about paying attention to places, this book will help you to do that, no matter where you’re going. One of my all-time favorites, it was inspired by the 1954 classic “The Nature of Light and Colour in the Open Air,” by M. Minnaert.

“This book is about seeing the world with the naked eye,” authors David K. Lynch and William Livingston say in their preface. “After a lifetime of scrutinizing the sky, you start seeing things. This book is about those things.”

Those things include earth shadows, alpenglow, purple light, green flashes, moon circles, cat’s paws, sundogs, and lots more. If you’ve ever wondered why the color of the sky is different at the horizon than at the zenith, why the color of water changes from place to place, or what the colors of clouds mean, this is the place to find out.

With lots of fascinating pictures, this is a must-read for photographers, artists, and any observant traveler who wants to pay attention.

But don’t take my word for it… here are some review excerpts, courtesy of the publisher, Cambridge University Press:

‘Most people notice only the occasional rainbow and pretty sunset, yet they could see much more if they only knew what to look for. Color and Light in Nature will facilitate this admirably … the up-to-date research, new ideas, beautiful pictures, and excellent explanations make Color and Light in Nature the new classic.’ Science

‘… a beautifully illustrated popular account of atmospheric phenomena … Many teachers as well as a good many naturalists will find the book to be a highly useful and comprehensive treatment of a beautiful subject, one that can be used to enliven dry classroom discussions of optics, light and colour.’ Nature

‘Lynch and Livingston deserve the thanks of the scientific community for re-opening our eyes to the wonderful world around us.’ American Scientist

‘A breathtaking list of effects is explained … along with how they got there. It just made me want to rush out and look at the things.’ New Scientist

‘If you ever wanted to know why the sky is blue, or what clouds are made of, or how rainbows are formed, then this is the book for you.’ Brendan K. Ward, Astronomy & Space