Nautical and Astronomical twilight are a transformative time of day. Happening shortly after sunset or before sunrise, it is the time of day when traces of light are either disappearing or reappearing. It’s a time of day that light can do magical things. For a photographer, this can open up the opportunity to capture some unique images that are purely dependent on the atmosphere and lighting at that particular moment, most likely never to be repeated exactly the same again.
This delicate and magical time of day inspired me to head out to capture the unique light. l chose to mix it with the intricate details of ice and frost flowers along a barely open stream during frigid temperatures. The conditions were unique and I wanted to capture the magic of the moment in this series.
Capturing the Magic of Twilight
This series was captured after the sun set well below the horizon, as blue hour faded away and nautical twilight began. With light pollution on the horizon, and the moon setting, it was an interesting mix of colour. The stars began to shine one by one as the sky faded a darker blue. Captured in the middle of winter in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Planning for twilight hour is important because there is not a lot of time between sunset and darkness. The lighting changes constantly as the sun dips further below the horizon. Knowing the times the light changes occur is essential. I use an app called Photopills that helps me plan out the times for blue hour, twilight and darkness.
The light changes a lot during twilight, as the sun gets further below the horizon and night takes over, this interesting transition is beautiful to watch and to capture. A camera will be able to collect light you may not even see to make for some interesting blends of colour as it continues to change.
About half way through my shoot I noticed a solid line through my 20 second exposure shots during twilight hours. When I looked up I noticed I had captured the beginning of a long line of Satellites moving overhead, I knew instantly what it was, and that they are being launched by SpaceX. I adjusted my settings down to 6 seconds in order to get the separation from the satellites.
It’s called the Starlink Mega Constellation by Space X and has changed the way our night sky looks since launching in late 2019. As they continue to launch, more people start to see the long trail of lights following each other in the sky. The purpose is for worldwide wifi, however the clarity and purity of our night sky may be at risk.
It was interesting seeing them, and capturing the movement but it was also a sad moment for me knowing this is just the beginning of many more launches planned. At a 20 second exposure it was a solid bright line through the sky, not even the International Space Station leaves that big of a footprint in the night. I had to come down to a 6 second exposure to show the shear number of satellites that were moving overhear, constantly for over 10 minutes. On the bright side, it makes me realize how much of a dark sky activist I am, and how important preserving our night sky is to me.
Photographers Tip– To get a night shot with a clearly focused and properly exposed foreground, it needs to be shot during blue hour and blended with a shot taken later, or when the moon is bright enough to illuminate the foreground. Unless of course you want to use low level lighting or light painting.
For this collection I did a mix of shots. With focus on my main print shot I used a blue hour blend to make sure the foreground was clear but for the rest I used single shots with the moon, light pollution and twilight light to help brighten up the foreground.
Hope you enjoyed by Twilight photo series, captured on a cold night in the middle of winter in order to capitalize on the conditions to create a unique set of photos for my collection.
“Keep looking up, watching the sky and the intricate changes Twilight will bring.”