Add More Sparkle to Twilight Shots

Esther BeatonLandscape Images, Nature and Wildlife, Photography Lighting, Photography Techniques, Travel Photography, Workshops & CoursesLeave a Comment

sunset behind the subject
sunset behind the subject

Capturing a scene with the sunset behind the subject leaves the front, facing the camera, in dull shadow.

Talking about night time events, well, dusk really, one of the key things a photographer has to prepare for is the need to add light, that is, more light than is available from the sky. 

At one of our recent Meetups, we started at The Haven in Terrigal. There were birds, boats, waves and people. The best part was the gorgeous setting sun and glowing skies which made a beautiful backdrop to all of those subjects.

retain colour of sunset sky

Using a bit of flash, either the built-in pop-up or a separate unit, gives the birds equal exposure with the whole scene while retaining the colour of the sunset sky.

Under such circumstances, the front of a subject is facing the camera and therefore in shadow. And too dark. But there’s a solution: the trusty fill light from a flash unit.

Otherwise, f you exposed for the subject, all the background colours would wash out from the overexposure. Some people try to compensate in post-processing. I’ve done it myself, but the effect is not the same. I find there is a lack of detail and crispness compared to using flash at the time of capture. 

Even as the “magic hour” of sunset gives way to the “blue hour” and eventually to a black sky, the principle remains. You can always add some flash to lighten the foreground subjects. It’s the only way to preserve the deep sky colours whether gold tones or blue ones.

Using a bit of flash, either the built-in pop-up or a separate unit, gives the birds equal exposure with the whole scene while retaining the colour of the sunset sky.

Light from the flash unit tinted the foreground rocks blue, added some detail, and also lightened the water on the right.

I wish more people would be brave enough to turn on or attach their flash units. Sometimes you don’t even have to do any calculations because almost any amount of blitz from your flash unit will work. 

Go on. If you’re reading, this, just pop on your flash unit and do some dusk or nighttime scenics. Or am I missing something and there are heaps of you people already out there doing just that? 

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