Shooting at Twilight

Twilight is known as the magic hour for the photographer. Each day during twilight one can get stunning photographs because of the lighting conditions at that time. Light is the key to get a beautiful landscape. But that doesn’t mean that you need the sun to be shining always. It’s true that lighting conditions during twilight hours produce stunning light. By shooting before the sunrise and after the sunset one can give a different look to their photographs than the normal sunlight images. With the sun below the horizon and the scene is lit by the light which is reflected from the whole sky. So you will get much soft and diffuse light. In this article we are giving you some tips and techniques that will allow you to make the most of the twilight hours.

When to shoot:

The twilight hours happen each day before the sun rises and after the sun sets. This specific period of time produce a warm glowing light where there is neither daylight nor darkness. Twilight photography is all about waiting until the sun has set or shoot before the sun rises. You need to check the timings of the sunrise and sunset before you plan your shoot. Along with the timings the other important factor for twilight photography is the weather condition. Clear sky with few clouds are the best condition to shoot. ©

Plan your shoot properly:

The time gap to shoot during twilight is so narrow that you don’t get much time to shoot. So it’s very important to be prepared before the shoot. Look for location and set your angle before the twilight hour starts. Get to know your surroundings. Make the most use of the available light.

Get your camera settings right:

While shooting during twilight you must shoot in manual mode to make the most of the available light. A sturdy tripod is must as you will need to shoot at a very slow shutter speed depending on the conditions. If you are shooting landscapes and required to focus the whole scene with lot of depth you will need aperture around F/11 or above. Use the ISO accordingly, keeping as low as possible to reduce noise. Shoot in RAW format. Even though you can adjust your white balance while you process a raw file. Choosing the right white balance in camera will help you to visualise the final result. For cool, blue results try using daylight or tungsten preset, and if you want a warmer tone then use shade or cloudy preset.

Use a Graduated ND filter:

Though the sun is below the horizon, there will be still a big difference between the brightness of the sky and the land. If you are shooting towards the rising sun or setting sun you will need a very strong Graduated ND filter such as 3 stop. But if you are shooting away from the rising or setting sun then 1 or 2 stop graduated ND filter will be enough. If you don’t have a graduated ND filter then you can shoot two images instead of one. In first image, set the exposure to get the details in the sky and in second shot set the exposure to get the details in the foreground. Then combine these two images together in Photoshop to get the final result.

Get some urban shots:

Twilight not only benefits for shooting landscapes but you can also get some great city and urban shots. Try working in amongst the architecture before the sun has set. The low sun will cast ambient light over the buildings and can create some really dramatic scenes alongside the shadows. Later in the evening, as the sun sets, try to find a vantage point to get a cityscape shot. The fading ambient light and glowing artificial lights will offer the perfect city scene to capture with a long exposure shot. ©

Try Silhouettes:

With the sun is setting, it’s not always possible to light the subject properly but in such cases you can try and take some silhouettes. Look out for opportunities to work with interesting shapes. It is important to use the available light as the backdrop of your silhouette to enhance the form. 


Hopefully, now you have got a proper idea about the camera settings and the ideal time to shoot in twilight. It’s best to head out on a clear day to start with. Try experimenting with long exposure and silhouettes. Be patient and keep shooting. Don’t be tempted to leave the shoot too early. Shoot as long as you can till it’s completely dark.  



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