Morning Twilight Reflections

There is a spot along the lake shore in Austin that I have come back to several early mornings, hoping to see those perfect conditions of light, sky, and reflections. From this place, I can mostly split the horizon with the reflections in the lake if the conditions are right. And it faces East, so I might get interesting light on the morning horizon. I can’t say that I have found those perfect conditions yet, but I have some decent photos.

In the photo below, it was a bit cloudier than I expected based on the forecast. but I still managed to get some deep blue in the sky. The lake was almost calm enough for sharp reflections. The blue sky above and the warm city lights appeal to me in this photo.

Downtown Austin Texas at predawn twilight reflected in Lady Bird Lake
Nikon D750 + Rokinon 14mm f/2.4; shot at 14mm, f/7.1, 8s, ISO100

Setting focus with this manual focus lens is not terribly hard if the subject is more than a meter or two from the lens. I did live view maximum zoom on one of the buildings and set focus and just about everything else is in focus with it.

One morning I went downtown before dawn only to have the clouds drop out of the sky onto the city. The lake was calm and reflected the lights nicely, but the sky was a hazy mess.

Downtown Austin Texas at cloudy predawn twilight reflected in Lady Bird Lake
Nikon D750 + Rokinon 144 f/2.4; shot at 14mm, f/4.5, 8s, ISO100

In the next picture I had the opposite situation. The sky was a beautiful deep blue, but there was a strong wind blowing, blurring out the reflections on the lake.

Downtown Austin Texas at predawn twilight reflected in Lady Bird Lake
Nikon D750 + Rokinon 14mm f/2.4; shot at 14mm, f/5, 8s, ISO100

Those are my three best from this location with the 14mm lens. I may return to this place again soon, but twilight is pretty early now that it is mid-June. Incidentally, there are three defined periods of twilight:

  • Astronomical twilight is the darkest, when the sun is 12 to 18 degrees below the horizon. There is enough light on the horizon for the camera to pick up.
  • Nautical twilight is when the sun is 6 to 12 degrees below the horizon. The horizon is clearly visible and you can still see some stars.
  • Civil twilight is when the sun is 6 to 0 degrees below the horizon. The horizon is bright and you know that the sun is about to rise (or just set).

And somewhere around nautical twilight to the beginning of civil twilight you will find the blue hour, which is what I was going for. The blue hour being an hour in name only as it may only last 15 or 20 minutes.

Thanks again for reading and please drop a comment below and tell me what you think.

One thought on “Morning Twilight Reflections

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