Sunsrise, Sunset… What's The Difference?

Did you know there’s a difference between "dawn" and "sunrise"? Or that "sunset" and "dusk" are not the same thing? This never occurred to me until recently when a photographer friend, well versed in photographing architecture at the edges of the day, pointed out to me that I was using the terms interchangeably, but that I should not. Dawn is the time when light first starts appearing in the sky, whereas sunrise is when the sun itself becomes visible. The reverse is true at the end of the day: sunset encompasses the last moments of visible sun in the sky before it dips below the horizon, and dusk is the time after the sun has disappeared when there’s still plenty of glowing light in the sky. The difference between these times, as you can imagine, is dramatic. When the sun is still visible in the sky the light is strong and directional and usually golden and warm. Beautiful light, no doubt. But after the sun has disappeared, the light becomes soft and non-directional, and the whole attitude of a scene changes significantly. To that end, Anne McKinnell has written about her favorite techniques for photographing during dusk, in the twilight, when all the other photographers have gone home. Check out her suggestions for tips and techniques that apply equally, in my opinion, for working at dawn as well.

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