Timing is everything, really! This is especially true with photography. Sometimes it’s more about your timing than your equipment. Fortune not only favors the bold, but also the well prepared.
When you go somewhere to take some photos, a little planning can go a long way in creating interesting and unique images, vs. snapshots. So, how does one prepare? Scouting a location you’re interested in helps. You can also use Google Earth and Maps to get an idea of what to expect. And, since there’s an app for virtually anything including photography, you should take advantage of them. Personally, I use one for my Android phone call PlanIt For Photographers. This app (and others like it) can tell you which direction the sun will rise and set, but also when the best light will happen. PlanIt also has the ability to tell me when and where the Moon will rise/set, along with the Milky Way!
A quick note about gear. It’s nice to have a high end, high dollar camera and lens. However, it’s not an absolute requirement. My gear costs a fraction of what some of the high end stuff does, but I don’t let that stop me. Learn how to use what you have to maximize the results you can achieve. I’ve done some night shots of city lights using my Sony RX100 (technically a point and shoot camera). To maximize my results, I put it on a tripod and used the timer to get my shots. My point is that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on gear. Use what you have to get started, and it may surprise you!
In addition to doing your homework and knowing when the best light is for a particular scene, you also need to bring some patience. There are times when the light may seem like it’s done and gone for the night, but it’s definitely worth it to wait. More than once I’ve been at a site, along with other photographers…the sun sets, and the others pack their bags and head for their cars. I waited, not long, maybe 10 or 15 minutes at the most. And – BAM! The magic happens! Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
The shot above is the Imperial Beach Pier. You can see that the sun has just about set.
Compare this shot to the one above it. They were taken from just about the same spot, but about 15-20 minutes later. Quite a difference!
Personally, I like the second shot much better. While the first version is nice, and I wouldn’t have a problem sharing it with anyone, the second one is much more appealing. In order to make this shot work, I put my Panasonic FZ1000 on a tripod, and used a delayed timer for the shutter (to help minimize vibration).
To sum up this post, here are the main points:
Prepare – use Google Earth/Maps or get an app (PlanIt or something similar).
Timing – get to the location and set up before best light.
Patience – the show may not be over when the sun has set, give it another 10 or 15 minutes.
City Lights – you may need to stay a little longer to catch the city all lit up (bring a tripod).
That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!