Jet contrails are just water vapors emitted in the high atmosphere. Artificial clouds essentially. It should not surprise us that during sunrise and sunset, contrails are colored during golden hour just like clouds.
(Click through the image for the 700px view)
While photogs generally lament jet planes flying into a landscape scene and leaving a lasting contrail that may take 15-20 minutes to either dissipate or blow through, this contrail was a welcome addition to this photograph. Though I take my share of standalone cloud photographs, I would rather provide some context to the clouds at times. A horizon, rolling hillsides, buildings, something. Our brains are tuned to size objects using context. Without context, sometimes an image does not register completely, as if it is trying to focus but not succeeding. Of course, there are many instance of photos having no real context and working perfectly fine, especially if presented as an abstract with the emphasis on a elements such as form, light, and texture.
In this image, the tiny jet and its sun colored contrail provides some context to the clouds. The jet is even positioned in the composition as though it is escaping the dark storm and flying into the open sky and brighter light.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, ISO 100, 200mm, f/13, 1/8 sec
Folsom, Sunset Clouds, Jet, Orange Contrail. El Dorado Hills, California. April 01, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.