I guess it's my age and my love of music, but a lot of my photos bring songs to mind, both when I'm shooting and when I'm editing them. Tonight while editing images for the revision of my book The Joy of Digital Photography (Lark Photography Book) I couldn't get the Platters singing "Twlight Time" out of my head. Funny, my friend Mark Borax (who is one of the world's foremost astrologers and the author of 2012: Crossing the Bridge to the Future) and I used to drive around town singing this song, but we could never remember the lyrics so we made most of them up. And to be honest, since both of us are writers, we wrote some pretty good improv lyrics. Mark is also a musician and songwriter, so our midnight rides around town were filled with lots of music.
Anyway, back to photography. Today's tip is simple: Don't leave after the sun sets. There are two cool sky events that happen after sunset. The first, and one I've written about many times, is the "afterglow" which is that burst of color that frequently (not always ) spills up into the clouds after the sun has sunk below the horizon. The other is simply twilight and you can count on that every night. Twilight, to me, is an incredibly pretty time--the sky fills with blues and purples and any artificial lights (like the lighthouse beacon here) have a nice warm glow. Also, because the light tends to be very even at twilight, contrast is low and you have a lot of latitude with exposure. I always shoot in RAW these days (for the past year or so), so I can also moderate the amount of blue/purple light in the twilight and adjust the exposure before I even open the image in Photoshop. As far as metering, I tend to just meter the sky using the matrix or center-weighted meter and let and foreground shapes (the hillside and trees here) go into silhouette.
The shot was taken in East Haven, Connecticut at Lighthouse Park, by the way--a nice place to head to for sunset and twilight shots (there's also a nice indoor carousel that's available in summer). I shot the photo with a Nikon D90 and an 18-70mm Nikkor zoom, on a Bogen 3021 tripod. Exposure, for anyone that cares, was 1/50 second at f/5.6.
By the way, I'm sure the Platters won't mind, so, in case you're trying to think of the opening lyrics of Twlight Time, here they are:
Heavenly shades of night are fallingIt's twilight time
Out of the mist your voice is calling
It's twilight time
When purple colored curtains
Mark the end of the day
I hear you my dear at twilight time