Silhouette of Tree at Twilight

2014 Challenge, Week 43 Nature & Wildlife – TWILIGHT

Twilight as defined by Wikipedia is the illumination of the Earth’s lower atmosphere when the Sun itself is not directly visible because it is below the horizon. Twilight is produced by sunlight scattering in the upper atmosphere, illuminating the lower atmosphere so that the surface of the Earth is neither completely lit nor completely dark. The word “twilight” is also used to denote the periods of time when this illumination occurs.

The further the Sun is below the horizon, the dimmer the twilight (other things such as atmospheric conditions being equal). When the Sun reaches 18 degrees below the horizon, twilight’s brightness is nearly zero, thus evening twilight ends, and night begins. When the Sun again reaches 18 degrees below the horizon, night ends and morning twilight begins. Owing to its distinctive quality, primarily the absence of shadows and the appearance of objects silhouetted against the bright sky, twilight has long been popular with photographers, who refer to it as ‘sweet light’, and painters, who refer to it as the blue hour, after the French expression l’heure bleue. ( )

This may demand a little more planning on your part as you will only have limited opportunities to do this and each opportunity lasts but only a few minutes. True that the end of the Twilight hours give us a deep blue sky to work with, there’s also a multitude of colors that can be produced in front of your eyes. The above image of the silhouetted tree has them all, from a soft golden glow to our deep blue sky.

Twilight RiverNot all images need to have a silhouette. This river was photographed as the sun had just set. Although a long exposure for a handheld image, everything is lit in an array of warm colors.


Remember, we’re not looking for a sunset or a sunrise. We’re looking for the light and the effect of this light just prior to sunrise or past sunset. The window of colors will be short and a bit of planning and technique may make all the difference. To keep track of where and when the sun will set and rise you may want to refer to the Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) ( ) free to use on the web app.


If you want to challenge yourself and produce an image similar to the one above, you’ll need a few tools.

  1. Steady tripod
  2. ND (Neutral Density Filters) ; optional
  3. Graduated Neutral Density Filters
  4. Camera Shutter Remote

Since the light in the sky will be brighter you may want to put graduated neutral density filters to good use. This will reduce the sky’s illumination, balancing it with the poorly lit subject, I.E. the ground and water. The ND filter will also increase your exposure time by evenly reducing light coming through your lens, giving you a silky look to your water.  The Tripod and shutter release will help you keep everything stable as you may be exposing for a few seconds to a few minutes.

You may also want to refer to this article from Sunrise and sunset phenomena: what to discover, when, and where:

As this is Nature and wildlife, keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer! Nature and Wildlife photography can also be a great family activity.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 24: LANDSCAPE – SUNSET/SUNRISE

I’ve been almost completely absent, for quite a while. Jeremy, Gary, and Steve have carried my commitments and this blog really well. And I thank them. Unfortunately, they’ll be stepping up again to carry us through the next few months, probably without me at all. I truly am grateful for their help. Additionally, these men have been good friends through my unique journey. Most of you do not know, but I was diagnosed with Leukemia almost a year ago. Last year’s treatment went well enough, and I was in remission. In April of this year I fell out of remission and I am next week going back in for a bone marrow transplant. Super sorry to start off this post with suck a downer. I’m not seeking sympathy or pity. I just want to share with you all what’s going on with me. Feel free to message me on any of our social networks if you have questions, etc, about this. I really want to keep focused on our challenges and your photographs!

Sunset through the Arch
“Sunset through the Arch”, by katsrcool

This week I’m looking forward to what you create! If you recall, I’m having you all focus on landscape photographs. This week I want to see either a sunset or sunrise photo, with a wonderful landscape framing it up. Consider many of the past landscapes that we’ve done, in order to get a decent balance. Maybe even go back and read the other posts, to pick up on some of the techniques.

“Lookout”, by Juan Lois

Consider that either a sunset or a sunrise photograph will heavily depend on the captured sky. You might want some clouds or contrails to give the sun’s light something to colorize. But don’t forget that the setting and rising sun’s light, being so distinct and often super intense, can colorize other things well too, like the focus of your landscape; mountains, trees, and even the bulk of a rolling landscape will all be transformed.

Layered Lone Pine Light
“Layered Lone Pine Light”, by Howard Ignatius

Many wonderful natural objects can be transformed quite nicely when silhouetted against a distinct sky. So, consider how different your landscape may be exposed, when it’s all so underexposed that it’s black.

Barras do horizonte
“Barras do horizonte”, by Eduardo Amorim

As always, please follow our guidelines:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2013 Challenge, Week 25: SUNSET/SUNRISE

Shell Beach Sunset
“Shell Beach Sunset”, by Trevor Carpenter

OK y’all, we’re already at week #25! So exciting to see the mid-point of the year arrive. At this point, you should have a firm grasp of what to do with each week’s theme. Some of them, we feel compelled to encourage or cast a vision for you. But, most of the time, I think you get the idea.

Perfect Ending
“Perfect Ending”, by Noeltykay

This week’s theme is simple, but not necessarily easy. I want to see you get up early, or plan an evening, with the best opportunity for you to capture a sunset or sunrise. These can take some planning, to pull off right. Sure, you can shoot one anywhere. But, often the best presentation of the sunset or sunrise isn’t just about the actual thing happening. It’s really about the context! The light created at these wonderful times can really be exquisite! You have a cobalt blue sky, being contrasted with the most wonderful oranges. If you don’t have any special weather happening, you might need to capture all the gorgeous light bouncing.

New York Sunset - HDR
“New York Sunset – HDR”, by Jerry Ferguson

So, you almost need to location scout before you’re ready for the best sunset or sunrise shot. You might need to even try it a couple days in a row, before it’s just right.

Sunrise On Water at Todd's Point 7-30-06
“Sunrise On Water at Todd’s Point 7-30-06”, by Paul Aloe

Don’t forget to tag and upload to all the right spots. Tagging is generally “2013PhotoChallenge”. And uploading happens to our Google+, Facebook, and Flickr group/community/pages. 🙂

I look forward to the results!

2009 Challenge, Day 249: SUNRISE

Today is Sunday, September 6, 2009. Today’s theme for the 2009 Challenge is SUNRISE.

sunrise in the city by Tattooed JJ
"sunrise in the city" by Tattooed JJ

We have shot the sunset earlier in the year, but we have yet to shoot a sunrise. This may be challenging for you just because of the time of day that sunrises are available to shoot. But don’t let that deter you! Set the alarm clock, shoot the sunset, and reward yourself with a trip to the local coffee shop for an early morning cup!

Before Sunrise by Chris Gin
"Before Sunrise" by Chris Gin

Once you’re ready to submit your work to Flickr, you’ve got to do two important things. First, make sure you tag your photos correctly; “2009challenge″ and “2009challenge249“. Also, if you haven’t already, join the PhotoChallenge group on Flickr. Then, submit each day’s photo to the group’s pool.

lalbada a Barcelona by morBCN
"l'albada a Barcelona" by morBCN

To see all of the shots for today’s challenge, click here: