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Twilight City Shoots

Twilight City Shoots

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Published by Scribme_too
Taking photo's in twilight conditions.
Taking photo's in twilight conditions.

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Published by: Scribme_too on Oct 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Head into the city just after sunset to capture colourful andatmospheric shots of illuminated buildings and landmarks
Shoot a ctyscene at twilight
What you’ll need
TripodND filterRemote releasePhotoshop Elements
How long it’ll take
Half a day
The skills you’ll learn
How to compose and focusa shot using Live View
How to use a neutral densityfilter to capture long exposures
How to use Elements’ Gradienttool to add colour to the sky
or great cityscapes you can’t beatshooting at twilight: after the sunhas set, but before the darknessfalls, there’s still enough natural lightto bring out detail, while the city lightswill be coming on to create extra colourand interest. Twilight doesn’t last longthough, so you’ll need to be in positionand set up before the sun sets.For our shoot we headed into theheart of London to photograph St Paul’sCathedral and the Millennium Bridgefrom the Thames Embankment; for asuccessful twilight cityscape you needto include iconic or interesting buildingsor bridges that are illuminated at night.You’ll need a tripod, and optionally anND filter to stop down the light so youcan shoot long exposures. Aside fromenabling you to blur water and skies,long exposures have another use: ifcars or people are passing through yourscene and the exposure is long enough,they won’t appear in the image – you’llneed a shutter speed of between 15 to30 seconds to achieve this.
Timing and location
To make the most of the twilight period you needto be set up ready to shoot in good time, so checkthe sunset time – twilight begins after the sun sets, andbefore the darkness sets in. Choose a location withbuildings that have plenty of lights and illuminatedwindows, and other interesting features.
Use a tripod
Set your camera up on a tripod so that you cancapture long exposures. Make sure you place itout of the way of people passing by, as you don’t wantit to get knocked during an exposure. If it’s windy you’llneed to shelter it – you can do this with your body, orweigh down the centre column with your camera bagif it has a hook for this purpose.
Camera settings
Set your camera to Av mode and set the apertureto f/16 – combined with the long exposure thiswill produce a ‘starburst’ effect from the lights in thescene. Noise can be a problem with long exposures inlow light, so keep the ISO to 100 to counter this, andshoot Raw files for maximum quality.
ND filter
To obtain a slow enough shutter speed to blurwater and clouds you’ll need a neutral density(ND) filter. We used a variable ND, which enabled usto control the strength of the effect by rotating theoutermost filter. Half-press the shutter button to takea shutter speed reading – around 30 secs is ideal.
Composition and focus
Switch to Live View mode to compose and focusthe shot (this also means the mirror will be lockedup to minimise camera vibrations). Compose the shotusing leading lines such as a bridge or river to draw theeye into the scene. To focus, switch your lens tomanual, then zoom in on a key feature (St Paul’s in ourcase) and adjust the focus to get it perfectly sharp.
Remote release
Use a remote release to fire the shutter so thatyou don’t jog the camera at the start of theexposure (if you don’t have one, you can use the 2-secSelf-timer option in the AF/Drive settings). Make sureyou don’t touch the camera during the exposure, andcheck your image is sharp when you’ve taken it.
Diffraction is aphenomenon wherelight ‘bends’ aroundsmall obstacles, suchas the aperture bladesin a lens – the narrowerthe aperture, the morepronounced the effect.It’s usually regarded asa problem, as it leadsto a loss of overallsharpness in an image.However, it can beused creatively to youradvantage, with lightsources taking on anattractive ‘starburst’effect; small streetlights in a scene areparticularly prone tothe effect. You’ll needto shoot at a narrowaperture, such as f/16;if you shoot at wideapertures of aroundf/5.6 you won’t be ableto capture the effect.
Phrase Book
The rule ofthirds is just asimportant when you’recomposing cityscapesas for landscapes: forour shot we filled thetop and bottom thirdsof the frame with thesky and water, andplaced the dome of StPaul’s on the left-handvertical third line; wealso used the diagonallines of the bridgeto lead the eyeinto the scene.
Super Tip!

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