There are various stages of sunrise and sun, however each phase repeats itself twice a day — once during sunrise and once again at sun. All stages during sunrise are the same for sun stages — the only difference is chronological order i. e. when each phase begins and ends. fujiflex photo prints for sale Therefore, sunrise and sun are exactly the same, except that sun reverses the order of stages seen at sunrise. For sunrise, the order is: astronomical twilight, nautical twilight, municipal twilight, sunrise. If we reverse the order we get the sun stages: sun, municipal twilight, nautical twilight, astronomical twilight. Let’s start out with sunrise and discuss each phase separately.

The length of twilight before sunrise and after sun is heavily influenced by the latitude of the onlooker; therefore I will not discuss the length of each twilight phase since it is highly variable. The first phase of morning twilight is known as astronomical twilight. This period of twilight occurs when the center of the sun’s rays is between 12° and 18° degrees below the horizon and slowly increases before day time formally begins. Most casual observers would consider the entire sky already fully dark even when astronomical twilight is just ending in the morning. Atmospheric colors consist of deep dark blue toward the horizon, and completely black when facing western side. Astronomical twilight really brings cityscape photos alive. The deep blue combined with warm artificial lights from city buildings, streets, and cars produce nice contrasts. Arguably, this is the best time to photograph cityscapes, but this clearly depends what you’re attempting to capture. Images during all twilight stages and during sunrise require a tripod. The photo will be blurry, regardless if your lens has vibration reduction or image stabilization.

Nautical twilight is when the center of the sun’s rays is between 6° and 12° below the horizon. The primary color cast across the atmosphere is usually a deep blue hued with noticeable orange and yellow tones at the horizon due to the rising sun. Light begins appearing quickly throughout this phase, and the blue sky will get set out to get lighter and paler. Details will become safer to distinguish but will lack most edge definition. Again, cityscape pictures are nicely produced during this phase. Most landscape pictures will be uninspiring during this phase because there is not enough available light. Silhouettes set out to look interesting, and get better yearly twilight phase.


Municipal twilight is the brightest phase of twilight and begins when the geometric center of the sun is 6° below the horizon and ends at 0° sunrise/sunset. The horizon is clearly visible and shadows are often discernable. Objects are clearly defined and no additional light is needed in most cases. The light cast during this phase can be anywhere from warm golden tones to cool pink tones. During municipal twilight, the colors of the sky are going to change quickly. Colors of pale yellow, neon red, and bright orange will dominate the sky. If confuses exist they begin changing colors, first from soft pink then to deep ruby red. When looking westward you can see the twilight wedge, which is a mix of Earth’s shadow and spread light. The pink and blue colors of the twilight wedge are separated by multiple layers. Most landscape photos begin coming to life as available light increases and details become obvious.

When the sun finally rises, deep ruby red and dark pink colors splash over all over the surfaces. Shadows come alive and retain purple and blue colors due to spread light. The contrasts of red and blue have reached a top, and will arguably provide for the best landscape pictures. The mix of colors and shadows helps distinguish form, shape, and texture, and these compositional elements should be utilized. The color of light is quickly changing from red to yellow, and you must react very fast if you change arrangement or frame. As the sun continues to rise in the sky, colors shift from yellow to white. This is why the first hour of sunrise and sun is called the “golden hour”, because red light changes to gold. After the first hour of sunrise the color of light begins turning white and is not approving to the majority of landscape photography. The only circumstances that could create gorgeous photos in midday are during thunder or wind storms when the sun breaks through high confuses highlighting spots of land. Otherwise, forget about taking good landscape pictures — they do not be compelling.

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