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Have you ever taken a photo at twilight? Were you happy with the results?
We found these gorgeous Hoodoos in the Bisti Wilderness reserve in New Mexico. This was such a fantastic location. It’s the kind of place you could just wander in for hours. Actually. We did wander around for hours. And we would have liked to stay a lot longer – climbing over one ridge after another, discovering bizarre formations and crazy patterns in the rocks, searching for interesting composition… what a place!
This was the last shot I took that day. I set up my camera to shoot these strange, smooth hoodoos – but I wanted something different. Rather than shooting in broad daylight, or during the golden hours, I decided to take the shot at twilight. This is the time after the sun disappears below the horizon – when there is still a soft, glowing light remaining. And before it is truly dark. I wanted a slightly strange light to add to the bizarre scene… but I wanted the light to be very subtle and smooth to compliment these beautiful hoodoos.
So, I set up my composition and waited for the light to do what I wanted. (And believe me, waiting around in a place like this is no chore… so much to look at!) When the light was soft enough – and I could see a touch of pink in the sky behind the hoodoos, I fired off a 3.2 second exposure. No good. The hoodoos were too dark. So, I pulled out my headlamp, fired off another exposure, and gave the hoodoos a pass or two with my lamp. I had to take a few shots to get the light even on the foreground… and to avoid the harsh shadows that directional light produces. For this final shot, I made sure I was far enough back with my light to avoid bright spots, and I moved the light from side to side to reduce those shadows.
Although dramatic sunbeams and brilliant sunsets can be striking in a photograph – I sometimes prefer more subtle light. Especially when the landscape is dramatic on it’s own.