As my trip to Italy was coming to an end, I stopped off at the Rialto Bridge which overlooks the middle of the Grand Canal, and I watched the sun set over Venice.
A beautiful end to a wonderful journey. I really enjoyed my time in Rome and Venice. With all the ancient and beautiful sights that Italy has to offer, its history and food, I would highly recommend you go and visit.
Here is the transition from dusk to the blue hour over the Grand Canal in Venice.
I talk about the quality of light at sunset in my How To Take Great Photos At Night tutorial. The image above is just after the Golden Hour period and the transition into the Blue Hour. The image below is within the Blue hour.
As the Blue Hour starts to end, the transition into the black of night commences. Which period do you like?
Well, it’s goodbye to Italy and thanks for the memories.
If you would like to get serious in your photography, I invite you to try a study in the quality of light:
QUALITY OF LIGHT at SUNSET
Think of a location or a view that is close to your home. Something that you like where there is sufficient foreground, middle ground and background interest and you can see a good view of the sky. It could be a park, an open space, or a street.
Commit two hours in the evening. The two hours will depend on your location on Earth and your sunset time. Try this site to find out your sunset time: Sun and Moon Times. You should be at your chosen location one hour before the sunset time.
The hour before sunset time will be the Golden Hour. The hour during sunset will be the transition from Golden Hour to Blue Hour and the time after will the the dark of night. Take photos every 15 minutes. Don’t change your focal length or aperture. Just adjust your shutter speed by slowing it down to get the correct exposure. Read the section further below if you would like to try full Manual Mode on your camera.
You will need:
- Camera (plus a remote shutter release or 2 second timer mode on your camera)
- Something to keep you entertained
Take the following set of photos:
- 1 hour before sunset
- 45 minutes before sunset
- 30 minutes before sunset
- 15 minutes before sunset
- Sunset time
- 15 minutes after sunset
- 30 minutes after sunset
- 45 minutes after sunset
- 1 hour after sunset
Back at home, study the light and colour on your computer. Which set do you like? If you note the shutter speeds for each image you’ll also know by how many stops of light the light changes. A great piece of photography knowledge for that time of year and weather condition. The reverse is almost true for sunrise, however the air is cold at sunrise and so the colours and light is slightly different.
I promise you, if you do this exercise you’ll never take photos during the day ever again; not one’s you’ll be impressed with
- How To Take Great Photos At Night
FULL MANUAL MODE (how to) for sunsets or sunrise
You should know the following about your camera before you start:
- What is Metering Mode and how to set it
- What is ISO and how to set it
- What is White Balance and how to set it
- What is Aperture and how to set it
- What is Shutter Speed and how to set it
FULL MANUAL MODE STEPS
- Set your camera on your tripod and frame your image
- Set your Metering Mode to centre-weighted so that the majority of the scene is metered and averaged
- Set the ISO to 100 (this is the camera reference ISO based on colour noise performance – For Nikon it is ISO200)
- Set the White Balance to AUTO (AWB)
- Set the Aperture to F/8
- Half press your shutter to set the focus and then change the lens auto-focus mode to MANUAL (this is to stop the lens from hunting for focus when the light gets low)
- Set the Shutter Speed by half pressing the shutter release and looking at the light meter in your camera. You want the indicator near the middle. Adjust the shutter speed up or down until the light meter indicator is in the middle. Take a shot and check the image on the back of the camera. If the exposure looks good enough for you then that is your starting shutter speed. The way I do it is to check the histogram. I set the shutter speed so there are no peaks or bunched up sections on the LEFT or RIGHT of the histogram. Sometimes this is not possible and so I go for the best middle-ground.
You are ready. Adjust only the shutter speed DOWN (slower) every 15 minutes to get a good exposure (or up, faster, if doing this at sunrise). As it gets dark (or light), judge this by looking at the buildings or ground interest items. You won’t be able to fully balance the sky and the ground, unless you are using a graduated neutral density filter. So go for the best “average”. That is the best exposure for the sky and ground without making either too dark or too bright.
Don’t worry about whether you got it right or not. Don’t over think it. Just try it, get home look at the results on your computer and learn from what you did.