Starting in 2001, photographer Mary Mattingly has created an image every year on the winter solstice — the day of the year when daylight is shortest — showing the first light of the day and the last light of the day blended into a single photo. The series is called “First Light / Last Light“.
The golden hour in photography is the first or last hour of sunlight in a day that photographers often aim to shoot in, since the sun’s position produces a soft and warm light with longer shadows. The Golden Hour Calculator is a useful website that can help you calculate the golden hour(s) for your location, telling you exactly when the sun rises and sets.
The Golden Hour Calculator (via Reddit)
Update: Darkness is an app for the iPhone that can help you calculate your golden hours on the go. (thx @noahaboussafy)
Dusk is a really interesting time to take photographs, when the sun begins to turn the sky reddish orange. If you use the faint light in the horizon as a backdrop, you can get really interesting silhouette photographs of people and landscapes.
All you need to do is expose based on the sky. If you have a point and shoot, just aim at the sky, hold down the shutter halfway to lock the exposure based on the sky, and then recompose the shot.
Here’s a scene where I exposed based on the subjects in the foreground. Since the difference between the foreground and the sky is so great, properly exposing the foreground causes the sky to be completely blown out.
Exposing based on the sky produces this look:
My favorite from this particular evening:
To capture motion without significant blur, you’ll need to use a somewhat fast shutter speed. In this case the shutter speed was 1/50 of a second, but there was still some blur (look at some of the feet).
That’s it though. It’s pretty simple. Good luck.
A photograph like this involving a basketball player dunking on a hoop would be pretty epic.
If you can think of any other scenarios or activities that would create cool silhouette photographs, leave a comment!