The older I get, the more I am affected by daylight and the length of the days.
I don't understand this, and I already know I'm not going to understand the explanation after somebody explains it, but, although December 21st is the shortest day of the year here in the Northern hemisphere, sunset starts getting later a couple of weeks earlier than that. Here in Western New York, in Rochester, the nearest city to me that I could find data for, the earliest sunset occurs on the 9th of December. By December 21st, the shortest day of the year, sunset is already three minutes later.
So if, like me, you get up when it's already starting to get light out, and you're more aware of sunset than sunrise, December 10th is the day that relief from the darkness of Winter effectively starts.
By January 15th, sunset in Rochester has "latened" from 4:35 to 5:00 p.m.
By the way, if you get depressed in the Winter...my brother Scott worked for Dr. Norman Rosenthal of the National Institutes of Mental Health when they were working out the treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the name for seasonal depression. The cure is as elegant as cures get—light! Bright, full-spectrum light administered regularly. And it's very effective, too. Search Amazon or Google for "SAD lights" or "SAD therapy lights."
Sit next to the light for half an hour to two hours every morning—45 minutes is a good starting time—preferably in the minutes or hours before the sun comes up, to artificially lengthen the day. (You can be doing other things.) You should feel improvement within ten days. The degree of relief varies with individuals, but can make dramatic changes for sufferers. (And SAD can be bad. NIMH got the worst cases, and I still recall some of the stories my brother told.)
The light cure is called phototherapy. I could think of some other definitions for that term.
(Thanks to S. and S.)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Michael Perini: "Re the Broader 'Phototherapy' definition, several years ago I bought two of the 10,000 Lux S.A.D. boxes from Full Spectrum Solutions to use as relatively inexpensive product photography / copy lights and they have worked wonderfully. In a pinch, bounce them off a white wall for a 'window light' portrait. Full spectrum and very high CRI lighting enhances almost everything from the way your food looks in the kitchen to the ability to read small print—it's more than just brightness.
"Interestingly, as the LED revolution comes into full swing we should pay particular attention to CRI. The LEDs you purchase in big box stores can be of horrible color. So it pays to look. (If CRI or Color Rendering Index is not on the package and above 90, look elsewhere) We didn't have this problem with tungsten because even if its color temperature is low, it emits some spectral energy across the full spectrum—it's a 'black body emitter.' Ctein had a recommendation for high CRI LEDs used in his renovation which I don't remember at the moment. Neither fluorescents nor LEDs radiate a full spectrum of light natively so they require some engineering to do so. As I am sure many folks have already found fixing color from a discontinuous spectrum can be impossible in the worst cases.
"Spend some time under 5500k CRI93 light and you will miss it when you turn it off. 'Good Light is a Good Idea.'"
Bryce Lee: "My own physician some years ago suggested with the time change from Daylight Savings to Standard, to use such a light device. I usually turn it on whilst looking at my morning electronic mail and then when reading the on line National Post. It sits to one side; I change the side the lamp sits on the desk to the opposite side every other day. The lamp has two settings, normal, and really bright as well as two different lenses. I got mine refurbished at the local Habitat for Humanity outlet. Have no earthly idea if it helps however do notice it does seemingly raise my internal energies!"
[Note: See the comments section for some nice-sounding and possibly accurate descriptions of the Equation of Time. As foretold, I make neither head nor tail of 'em. —Mike the Untechnical Ed.]
Jim Hughes: "Now that we live in the same time zone, let's compare. On December 9th in Rochester, sunset is at 4:35 p.m., eastern standard time. In Camden, Maine, due to our being located farther east in the zone, sunset will officially be declared at 3:58 p.m. So look on the bright side. You will be benefitting from an additional 37 minutes of afternoon daylight in which to make photographs!"
Mike replies: I always used to like to take the ferry across Lake Michigan to visit my cousins. In so doing I went from the Eastern edge of the Central Time Zone to the Western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, and magically acquired a lovely extra hour of evening daylight.
Kenneth Wajda: "I use SAD lights for food photography and portraits and film work. Great daylight-balanced soft light in a freestanding box."