Sunsets/Sunrise Stream - Day 6 - Sunset Phases :: Digital Photo Secrets

Sunsets/Sunrise Stream - Day 6 - Sunset Phases

by David Peterson 0 comments

Today's Topic: Sunset Phases

Sunset has three distinct phases, and it’s handy to know how to photograph each phase. That’s today’s lesson.

Main Article - What Modes to Use for Each Phase

Extra reading (if you have more time):

Article - The Differences between Civil, Nautical, and Astronomical Twilight (Digital Photo Secrets)
Article - Beyond Sunset: The Different Phases of Twilight (Digital Photography School)
Article - The No-Nonsense Guide To Shooting Sunsets And Sunrises (Ashmole Photography)
Article - The Types of Twilight (The Photogropher's Ephemeris)
Article - Understanding Golden Hour, Blue Hour and Twilights (Photo Pills)
Article - BLUE HOUR 101 (Facebook)
Article - Quick Tip: Shooting Fantastic Images at Twilight (Tuts+)


Beginner Challenge

Twilight provides beautiful soft lighting for your images. Compose a shot of a statue or monument in your local town using the twilit sky as your background.

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Intermediate Challenge

The evening light levels change quickly so be prepared to get your shot before it is too late. Use aperture priority to take a waterscape shot just before the sun dips below the horizon.

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Advanced Challenge

Long exposure enable you to capture the blue of twilight and the detail in your shot. Take a long exposure of a twilight waterscape that evokes the emotion of tranquility.

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Day 3 Professional Critiques - Perfect Components

As part of the Dash, I'll be providing feedback on your photos by selecting three images per topic per stream and asking my pro photographers (who critique the images for Dash Assist) to provide some feedback. Over the entire Dash you'll see pro reviews of 24 photos. I'll be selecting some great images, and some not-so-great photos, so you can see why the great ones look great, and how to improve the rest.

How do you get YOUR image selected? Upload your image to Dash Insider within 3 days of the topic being released and I'll see it when I'm selecting the images to critique.

By Norma Irving Perfect Components Day 3. Carefully compose and take a sunset shot with a foreground object and a natural frame. Sorry not very good sunsets where I am at the moment but great sunrises through the fog. I hope sunsets qualify.

Critique by professional photographer Julia Harwood:

Hi Norma, this picture definitely qualifies. It has an other worldly feel to it.

I love the composition on this one with the duck and the reeds in the foreground and the tree hanging over the top. You have framed it very well. The only alteration I would suggest to the composition is to crop in a little from the right so that the duck is on the left vertical thirds line, this also puts the sun/moon in the center which creates a nice symmetry with the branches.

You have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the movement of the duck and even though you have used ISO 200 you have very little noise, so you have exposed well for this shot.

The fog or mist adds a great feel to the image and the colors are soft and subtle, a really great image. It has a real sense of peace and tranquility to it, well done.

By David Reedman This is a sunrise I took a couple of weeks ago - the last 2 weeks have been wet and overcast both morning and night. It was taken on the River Murray. I like it because it had a good range of colours, a reflection in the river and it was framed by the trees in front of me on the opposite bank. Any comments people want to make are most welcome as I am new to photography so I'm open to learn

Critique by professional photographer Cameron Mitchell:

Hi David.

You've made a beautiful job of catching the scene; the silhouettes cup the rising sun nicely to add some fine textures and patterns to the smooth and large shapes of the clouds. Added to that is the reflection you've got in the water that fills the foreground.

You've used a good narrow aperture and a fairly slow shutter speed but if you were able to slow it down further it would give the water a lovely silky look. It would lose you the detail of the reflections but give you the chance to add a completely different texture and look to the scene. If you want to head in that direction lower the ISO and slow the shutter down to match. Keeping the exposure the same as it is now would mean dropping the ISO to 100 and slowing the shutter down the equivalent amount to 1/8 of a second. Work quickly though, as the sun rises or sets it's only a matter of seconds between needing one shutter speed and the next, if you're unsure of what you need or can't adjust the camera fast enough use manual mode and set the camera in advance so you can wait until the light levels are just how you want them. Whether or not the trees would stay still enough is another matter and something you might end up needing luck with.

The one thing I'd do to adjust this shot is to rotate it slightly clockwise, the horizon looks better flat than sloping and it only makes a fractional difference to the composition, nothing gets cropped out of the adjusted frame.

You've taken a great shot David, it looks beautiful already but there's plenty of scope for more, equally stunning, shots as you practice your skills.


By Jenny Powell Day 3 Perfect Components. Still no sign of any sunset so another old one. This was taken from the caravan park at Wanaka in South Island, New Zealand

Critique by professional photographer Becki Robins:

Hi Jenny, you win the award for one of the top weirdest shutter speeds I’ve ever seen in an EXIF, lol. According to your camera data you shot this at 34257/1000000, which is quite mind boggling actually, but I think it’s pretty close to about 1/30th (unless my math is wrong, which it probably is) :). At any rate for a landscape such as this one shutter speed is not so important—what matters is that you use a smaller aperture so you can get good clarity from foreground to background. Now I know that when you use compact cameras sometimes you don’t get a lot of choice over your settings so you may have been doing the best with what you had (I’m not familiar with that particular camera so I can’t say) but you did need a setting that would give you more depth of field for this particular scene. Your camera chose f/2.7 which was based on the low light—it presumed you needed to shoot wide open so that you could maintain a faster shutter speed and a low ISO. What you really needed was a mode such as night landscape mode or sunset mode—all cameras don’t necessarily handle these scenes in the same way, but for many cameras night landscape mode will opt for a slower shutter speed in exchange for a smaller ISO. This means you’ll need to use a tripod to keep your camera stable during that long exposure, but the tradeoff is that you’ll get greater depth of field. You do have some motion blur in those overhanging branches in this shot (must have been a bit breezy?) so that would actually be increased in a slower shutter speed version—I think it might actually look cool but you could also choose to angle out any windblown parts of the scene or wait for calmer conditions to minimize motion blur.

The sky itself is really pretty in this—I love all the pinks and blues. It’s a very nice, peaceful scene and I do like the way those overhanging branches create a partial frame for the sky. Nice composition.

What's Next?

I'll send your next topic "Turn Around" on 23 August.


Are you overwhelmed with all this new content I'm sending you? Don't be! You don't need to complete everything right away. To break things down into manageable chunks, I've written a checklist showing you what to do each day, and what you can skip.

General Information

For more general information about the Dash, see the Getting Started document.

Dash Insider

If you haven't done so already, I recommend you get involved with Dash Insider - our private community. See your email for the password to access this system, and I have created a few videos showing you how to login and navigate the site.

How to Upload Your Photo

See the third video on the Dash Insider Login Tutorials page for a rundown on how to upload.

Receiving A Great Critique

See the separate post on giving and receiving feedback for help on soliciting great feedback on your images.

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