The Green Flash


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The very first night I spent in San Diego (back in 98 or 99 I believe), I had dinner at a place in Pacific Beach called “The Green Flash“. The name intrigued me and I found at that the “green flash” refers to the green color the sun takes on just as the very last bit of it disappears below the horizon.

I had the opportunity to return to San Diego recently to visit with old friends. This wallpaper is my homage my old home in the west and the years I lived there.

I used Vue d’Esprit’s “planetary” mode to allow me to place clouds (and the sun) beneath the horizon line so I could create godbeams from beyond the curve of the earth. Tricky to set up and it took forever to render (to clean up the noise) but you let me know if was worth it.

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53 reviews for The Green Flash

  1. Ronald Craig [lifer]

    This should be in the top ten. Excellent work; one of my absolute favorites!

  2. Keith-E [nonmonthly]

    This is still one of my faves among your more recent offerings. I have gone from three monitors to two, we lurve this one 🙂

  3. Bruce [lifer]

    Please Please render 11520 x 2160 (3X UHD 16:9) I beg of you! <3 new lifetime member. This is my favorite.

  4. Mya

    This is currently my background at work. Trust me it was hard to choose one because you have so many wonderful images. Every time someone sees my desktop they comment about how beautiful this is and I take the opportunity to tell them about your site 🙂

  5. Marc

    OK, I don’t have to be a Comic Detective to see where the confusion lies… to understand that in this MARVELous Universe you have The Green Flash — Bat as an All American boy, it’s Timely of me to mention that The FLASH and the GREEN Lantern, as much as it would be Fantastic four them to go together, aren’t on the same page. At that, I’m running out of puns. I didn’t get to work in the Green Arrow or even Trogdor. Oh well, back to the real world, see you in the funny pages.

  6. Marc

    OK, I don’t have to be a Comic Detective to see where the confusion lies… to understand that in this MARVELous Universe you have The Green Flash — Bat as an All American boy, it’s Timely of me to mention that The FLASH and the GREEN Lantern, as much as it would be Fantastic four them to go together, aren’t on the same page. At that, I’m running out of puns. I didn’t get to work in the Green Arrow or even Trogdor. Oh well, back to the real world, see you in the funny pages.

  7. Doug R

    Ryan – been a silent fan (and sub) for years. This image takes me back to the The Green Flash where my wife and have dined for years… Great job!

  8. WiDoW

    Was well worth the rendering time! Those rays added an atmospheric ambience as well as a sense of depth to the piece. I have used Terragen in the past and can appreciate the agonies of render times. But well worth it, when you hit it right. Looks great on my tablet!

  9. pendrag

    on the dual screen, with the light to the left really allows this image to be noticed.

    i was actually asked where i took this picture.

  10. James

    Thank you for the multi’s! I’ve been looking forward to making this my work wallpaper!

  11. Ryan

    No I can’t say that I’ve ever seen that show (I don’t get to watch a whole lot of TV). Looks interesting though! Too bad it was canceled…

  12. Josh Kirby

    Was this image inspired by, or the inspiration for, “The Green Flash” that was shown on the now-cancelled NBC series “Crossbones”? The resemblance to the brief scene on the show is striking.

  13. Ryan

    I am rendering the multiscreen version right now but it is taking a very long time. The shadows and light rays in the atmosphere are very computationally expensive to render smoothly. Hopefully a few more days…

  14. Bob

    Dual screen coming soon?

  15. David W

    I absolutely love these colors. so relaxing. so perfect. idk why but I think this is one of my fav’s. kinda wish the bird wasnt there.

  16. Past0rB

    This is one of those images that you feel like you can just walk off the road, down the hill and right on to the beach.

    It just feels so peaceful and serene. And I love the light on the clouds NE of the sun itself. Just feels so real.

    An instant favorite for me. Thanks Ryan. Great job once again.

  17. Troels

    Looking forward to the multible monitors version!

  18. Ryan

    Thank you! I still need to create a print res version of this. Just the 4K version took many days to render so I need to figure out a way to render it larger but with lower quality settings (that aren’t noticeable in the final render).

  19. TommyGuns

    Ryan, any chance of getting this as a large canvas print? You’ve outdone yourself with this one and I would love to add it to the other pieces you have done that I have on the walls of my house.

  20. James

    I can’t wait for the dual to be completed!

  21. Mangoman

    Well, it’s only my favorite color, to start with. Just all that bluish purple of the beautiful sky is simply… “I ain’t got the words.”, as Texas Jack said in Tombstone. What’s more, it actually happens! You have to be watching at exactly the right moment when the sun sets, but it really does give off a green flash, and as it rises too. Living in Michigan makes it impossible to witness, but one day, maybe….. An excellent job, Ryan. You. Are. The. Man. You go, guy.

  22. Ryan

    The version for multiple monitors is rendering right now on Asfaloth. It’s going to take a while though…

  23. Skyshroud

    I had to look twice to make sure it was not a photo, duel screen please when you get some time.

  24. Tom

    Just a terrific setting. Nuff said.

  25. MadDogWix

    Love it… just need a dual screen version.

  26. Mark

    My wife’s family has been spending summers on Sanibel Island, Florida since forever, which means I occasionally vacation there now as well. There used to be an awesome, little, hole in the wall restaurant on Captiva Island, just north of Sanibel, called Timmy’s Nook, which years ago was replaced by a fancy, schmancy place called… The Green Flash! Looks like The Flash in San Diego may have recently closed. The Flash in Captiva has green tinted windows so all the sunsets are green, which in my book is cheating.

    I first came across the astronomical phenomenon called The Green Flash when perusing a Reader’s Digest article in a dentist’s office probably 30 years ago or so. I might note that The Flash is purported to occur at the instant the first edge of the sun touches the horizon in the morning as the sun rises, or the last edge of the sun disappears just as it sets in the evening. So technically, you would not expect to see The Flash with so much of the visible sun showing as depicted in this work. But this is art, so no harm no fowl, I mean pelican, I mean foul. Geez! In this case The Flash absolutely needs more of the visible orb showing so that the uninitiated might better understand what they are looking at. I might suggest a touch more green and a touch less yellow in both the sun and the reflection on the tops of the ripples, but that’s just me, and perhaps my tainted view of The Green Flash caused by those tinted windows.

    On another note, are those Brown Pelicans or some other species of pelican in this piece? Brown Pelicans are abundant in Southwest Florida.

    Thanks for another wonderful piece, Ryan. Love your work.

  27. Angelique

    Wow! I’ve always loved your nature scenery wallpapers. The sky is so beautiful in this one, such a beautiful blend of colors

  28. Kevin

    Love your beach scenes, makes me want to jump on a plane and head to one right now! 🙂

  29. Littlemom

    Love it.

  30. Jenanne

    Entirely agree, JDD — it’s rare for an artist, particularly one so talented, to allow his followers to participate in the process. It keeps us interested and involved even when Ryan disagrees with the consensus and goes his own way. Which is, of course, his right as The Boss; art by committee would be awful. 🙂

  31. betsey

    gave this a 20+ on FB because I love sunsets….hopefully it went viral…..alot of conventional photographers were impressed….

  32. JDD

    I do LOVE the sand/rocks/bird. Funny that others find things to improve in that area. that’s why these conversations are good. and I still find it rare that an artist would even begin to have discussions with the audience.

    I think Ryan has embraced that a bit over the years.

  33. JDD

    Ahhhh – I hate to even write anything negative in these comments. But I hope you know that we inherently like almost everything you do which is why we are subscribing.

    anyway… the clouds

    they do look very realistic. One of the first things that caught my eye in the picture. But as I look at the rays of light coming at me from below the horizon it somehow makes it look like the clouds near the sunset are trapped in that flat plane with the light rays.

    … or maybe not 😉

  34. Jenanne

    Terrific. I love the feeling of this render. Great way to ease us into acknowledging the approaching end of summer. 🙂

  35. Ryan

    I agree with you. If anything in this image needs more work it is the foreground. Unfortunately it is tough to add shadows because, technically, the sun is already set. The lighting is entirely global illumination (from the sky) which is inherently very flat. I might be able to add some more detailed erosion to the beach though.

  36. Scott

    I’m surprised to read the cloud comments; I think they look great–almost photographic! But what is bugging me is the sand. It’s flat, needs some definition or shadows.

  37. Eric

    I was looking at the 4096 x 2560, as I usually do, to see all the smallest details. Very impressive. That’s when I noticed two phantom images above the sun. They appear as the tops of a grey square. They are from dead North at about 5º and 40º, just slightly above the cloud sticking out to the left on the right side above the sun. As far as I can tell it’s in all renders.

    That with standing … Great piece. Very realistic in my book.

    BTW, was there any influence from Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”?


  38. Jeff

    This is one of your best yet, Ryan. I do agree that the clouds look a bit on the, well, strange, side, but I don’t find them distracting. I’m really drawn to the way the sun reflects off the water more than anything else. If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was a photograph, much the way your Highland wallpapers appear.

  39. Todd M.

    One of your very best sir. Thank you.

  40. Lester D

    Come on guys!! Vote this one up to be No. 1 on the top 10!!! It need less than 25 votes….

  41. Jonathan

    May break your top 10. Simply gorgeous.

  42. Chris

    Great Job, Ryan. Also from Iowa to San Diego, I treasure our beautiful sunsets. You captured something special here.

  43. Ryan

    Sorry you feel that way about the clouds. They are actually some of the most complex clouds I have ever set up. I used Vue’s “Spherical” terrain mode to position the 3D cloud layers so far away that they were actually beyond the horizon. You are only seeing the tops of most of them. It is pretty subtle but I’m happy with how they turned out.

  44. Sharon

    I have been looking for a good sunset image for a while now and this takes the cake! Wow. What a beauty. Thank you for this.

  45. JMK in CT

    Admit it, you took a picture and just added the green flash. The whole scene is one of the more realistic Ive ever seen you do. This is why I have a lifetime membership!!

  46. JDD

    The beach,sand, foam are some of the best I have seen in your work.

    All the clouds seem to be in a “flat, slanted, plane”

    Very close to realistic but maybe off just a bit??

    The green color I don’t seem to care for at all 🙁

    Overall I think this is extremely realistic, but there are a few things that stick out as not quite right.

  47. Derek

    The sky in this piece is just beautiful. Looks great on the desktop. To be a little bit critical I think the rocks could use a little work. They just look a little to fake to me, maybe if they were more gray or even a dark green I think would really tie this piece together for me. However, it is still a great piece and I will let this float on the desktop for awhile.

  48. Tyler

    As a native San Diegan you have paid a great tribute here. I couldn’t be more pleased with this. Green Flash is also a craft brewery here in SD that I’d imagine borrows from the same concept. But enough about beer, I love the image and eagerly await the multi.

  49. Quidproquo

    Looks very realistic. The clouds are spectacular.

  50. Ruth

    I am in love with this, Ryan! The detail is so amazing that I can almost smell the salt air! 🙂 I have always wondered about the flash – I’d love to be able to see a real one. I don’t see much green, though; is it me? Regardless, this is a magnificent beach piece! <3

  51. Ryan

    Thanks! The disc is actually 98% below the horizon. The green you see is only the very top portion.

  52. anna_writr

    Love the image…but the green flash is after the disk is underneath the horizon (or so I’ve heard). This looks just like a slightly greenish disk. Still gorgeous.

  53. Lester D

    Unbelievable Ryan. This has to be your best, ever. I’m a huge fan of beachy sunsets and this one is waaaay beyond awesome. How about a pickle Jar version of a regular oranjy sunset?

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