Whether you live near a city or in the country, you've likely seen plane contrails, or vapor trails, in the sky. While we usually think of them as being streeks of white, occasionally they appear in different colors. It's just not usually visible to the human eye. India-based photographer Soumyadeep Mukherjee managed to capture this sight in a series of stunning photos.
Mukherjee went out with the intention of snapping pictures of the ISS transit of the sun. However, due to some unexpected clouds blocking the sun, he was forced to abandon that plan. That was when he photographed something even more amazing. “On July 19, I was able to capture one of my dream shots,” Mukherjee tells My Modern Met. “This phenomenon is considered to be extremely rare in countries like India, and I might be the first person to capture this in the country.” The colors in plane contrails are due to individual water droplets diffracting sunlight. When the droplets are equal in size, they diffract colored light in the same direction, which in turn makes the hues visible to humans.
Each image is actually a composite of seven individual images captured over a period of 40 seconds. As a result, each photo depicts the changes in the iridescent colors and shape of the plane contrail. “I was actually photographing sundog (another optical phenomenon) at 150mm when I saw an airplane in the field of view,” he continues. “I quickly zoomed my lens at 600mm and was very surprised to see some colors on the contrail.”
Mukherjee elaborates that his location in Kolkata, India, makes it very rare to see contrail iridescence. “The colors were faint and not visible to naked eyes,” he says. “Had I not zoomed in with my camera, I would have missed it completely.” After capturing the images, Mukherjee brought them into Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Photoshop to enhance the colors and arrange them together.
Scroll down to take a look at these mesmerizing images, and be sure to follow Mukherjee on Instagram to never miss an update.