Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The twilight zone

Just because the sun’s gone down doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to put the camera away. Some of the most remarkable shots you’ll ever take will be captured in the fading light of day. The above shot of the Wind Point Lighthouse near Racine, Wisconsin and the planet Venus was taken about 45 minutes after sunset. The small beach shot was taken about a half hour after sunset.

Here are a few things to keep in mind should you decide to catch the last light of the day:

The sky slowly takes on a deeper blue cast as night approaches. From about 20 to 40 minutes past sunset is the ideal time to catch the deep indigo color of the sky.

You’ll need a tripod or some other device to keep the camera stock-still during the exposure, which will be quite long.

The rule of thumb I use in positioning the camera – set up low. I usually stay within 14 inches of the ground when shooting night and twilight scenes. The low angle adds to the drama.

If you have a camera with manual settings, I use a one-second exposure at f5.6 using 100 ISO. If you’re using a digital point and shoot, set the exposure to about -1.5 to -2. Autoexposure will want to lighten the photo. Don’t let it.

Embrace the blur. If you can, stop down your lens and increase exposure time. Moving clouds will be rendered as streaks of light in the sky. Waves on the beach will become a ghostly mist.

It takes a fair bit of experimenting to become adept at twilight shooting and many mistakes will be made. But learn from them and over time, catching low-light photos will become second nature.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely shots there.
- Paul @ www.photographyvoter.com

June 12, 2007 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Hillary said...

The star effect on the lights, is that created with a smaller aperture or with a special effect filter?

June 12, 2007 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger James said...

@Paul, thanks!

Hillary, it's the small aperture (f22). I did not have a star filter on the lens (although now that I think of it, it would have been pretty cool!).

June 12, 2007 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger mattdentonuk said...

Dear James
I'd like to make contact with you about using one of your pictures on a CD cover!
I'm with a Classical String Quartet - how do I contact you!?


August 30, 2007 at 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, this is an excellent tutorial for twilight shooting. I'm a big chicken when it comes to night shots, but you've inspired me to try. Should be fun!
Thanks for sharing what you know. Glad to have stumbled upon your blog via Shannon's.

November 9, 2007 at 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see no other way to get in touch with you, so I'll post a comment and see if we connect. I'm interested in using one of your images on a business card. Would you allow this under your copywrite protection? bsc112598@yahoo.com

July 28, 2008 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

Some great info here thankyou for sharing

October 7, 2008 at 4:33 AM  

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