If you are not using a thermometer for caramel, use a clean clear or light-colored silicone spatula to determine the color. (Do not use the same spatula you used initially to stir the sugar because any granules of sugar remaining on the spatula will cause crystallization.)
A half cup of sugar makes ¼ cup/59 ml of liquid caramel (plus the residue that clings to the pot). If hardened and then pulverized, it returns to its original volume of 1/2 cup. Caramel is extremely difficult to make in humid weather because sugar is highly hygroscopic (meaning it attracts water). The moisture in the air will make the caramel sticky.