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Tips For Shooting In The City At Twilight

How to keep safe and shoot great images in the city as the sun goes down.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Photo by David Clapp


Be Early

Arrive at your chosen spot about half an hour before the sun's due to set as you'll need time to set your equipment up and to find your angle. You'll need your tripod as shutter speeds will be slow and working hand-held will only result in shake. If you have one, attach your remote release up, too, to stop your movement rocking the camera when you go to press the shutter button. Many cameras allow you to fire the shutter via a Smart Phone, eliminating the need for a remote release. You might want to fire off a few test shots to see if your composition works but do remember the light will change.

Get Ready

Make sure your focus is correct then turn off autofocus as it tends to struggle in darker conditions. Check your white-balance and set your ISO to 100, although, if you want to quicken the shutter speed slightly, you can knock it up a couple of notches. Then, you just have to stand and wait for the sun to begin setting. You might want to pack a flask of something warm and make sure you have your coat with you for this bit!

The Sun's Setting

Once the sun has gone below the horizon don't think it's time to put your equipment away so you can head home, you need to keep taking photos, adjusting the exposure length as you do to capture as many different results as possible.

Watch Out For Bright Light Sources

If you have the moon in shot, or other bright lights such as street lamps, and you use a longer shutter speed it can result in flare but this isn't always a bad thing as an as overexposed street lamp, particularly on a damp evening, can look quite good.

Where Works?

Getting out above the city so you can shoot down on it. Capturing the city lights against the dark blue sky as they switch on works well but do get in among the city buildings too. At busy junctions you'll be able to capture light trails as traffic flows by while a bridge will give you a nice leading line with lights dotted along either side of it. Have a look for shop signs that are lit up or if you're visiting one of our well known seaside towns, you'll have a long street of illuminations to capture.



Photo by David Clapp


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