Twilight, when the skies are cobalt blue, is one of my favorite times to photograph. Images taken at twilight acquire a richness of color not present during the day, and the surrounding darkness can often hide ugly elements like garbage cans or power lines.
To add an extra twinkly element to my pictures I like to make lamps or other points of light look like little stars, like this:
The added sparkle can transform an average picture into a winner, and the effect is easy to achieve. Here’s how to set up for a twilight photo shoot:
1. You’ll need a tripod since you will be shooting in dark conditions and the shutter speeds will be long.
2. Make sure you are photographing about 30-40 minutes before sunrise or after sunset, when the skies turn blue.
3. Set your f-stop to f8 or f11 to get the star effect. A smaller aperture means the light has to squeeze through a smaller opening to reach the sensor, creating the effect.
The picture here depicts La Compañía de Jesús Church on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru.
La Compañía is one of my favorite churches to photograph in Cusco because it is illuminated at night and the plaza is filled with lamp posts.
One evening on our Peru Photo Expedition, our group spent time photographing the church and came back with some terrific shots. Many of the attendees were surprised at achieving such unique results with little effort.
By my count there are 16 little stars in the above shot. I hope you’ll give it a try.