Shoot twilight shots just like the pros

It can be frustrating. I’m talking about trying to capture images of the same quality as those shot by the pros. Images that appear in the best sporting and travel magazines are universally excellent. Here’s an example from Canoe & Kayak Magazine. The images and the explanation of how they were shot come from the excellent Strobist blogsite. Notice the images shot at sunset. They’re great. So why can’t you or I get the same image? Well we can but let’s look at how these shots were taken for the magazine. (I’m not going to show the images here as I don’t have permission to use these commercial shots but you can just go over to the Strobist site and see them for yourself.)

Notice the image of the crew (note: Crew! Not just us with our speedlight popped up on our Canon Rebel) and the softbox and the big monoblock flash head held up on a stand. BTW this image was shot with an iPhone!!!!!!.

So do we need all this equipment? No, but it helps. And, when it comes to a pro-level magazine shoot, it’s absolutely essential.

So how can you get shots of people at twilight?

The simple answer is you use your flash. But if you use your pop-up speedlight, you’ll get a “flash” picture with no twilight in the background and harsh bright light on your subject. If you’re using a point and shoot, try using the night-portrait setting. It’s amazing what you can do with the pre-set modes on many smaller cameras. A tripod might be very helpful to avoid the dreaded camera shake that causes blurry images.

If you’ve got a higher end point and shoot or a DSLR  you can experiment with the “slow sync” flash mode. This mode will allow you to set your camera exposure to capture the background light (Again a tripod maybe essential to avoid camera shake. Light levels that are too low will cause the camera to shoot long time exposures that will make handholding the camera really tough.) while the flash can be set to put just enough light on your subject so that you can get a shot that will look a lot like the one in the magazines. If you’ve got a flash you can control wirelessly that you can put on a stand or duct tape to a nearby tree branch (or have someone hold it for you) you can shoot an image that has side lighting just like the pros.

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