September 1st, 2016
I’m curious to see what are people do for Twilight shots when the street lights are on? Sometimes the street lights turn on before it even gets dark and ruin my shot. The whole scene becomes really orange, and there is no way I can fix it even in post production because I lose information from other color values.
What is a good time to go before the light turns on?
The ideal time for shooting twilight shots is from 15 minutes before sunset to 15 mins after sunset. You don’t want to wait until it’s “dark”.
I have a street light across the street from my office and tonight I noticed that it did not come on until 19 minutes after sunset and when it came on it did not have an uncorrectable effect on the image (click on the photo above). This shot was taken about a minute after the street light came on. It is directly out of my Canon 5DMkII set to Auto WB and no corrections of any kind made. While the effect of the street light does show, I claim that I could take this into Lightroom and crop out the street light, do a few minor adjustments and create an acceptable twilight shot. That said, I’d be inclined to shoot the twilight shot about 5 minutes earlier that this. Before it got this dark.
My guess is that you are shooting way too late. This is a very common mistake. The longer you wait after sunset the more the street light will dominate the color balance.
The process I suggest is as follows:
- Arrive at the property early. That means early enough to get all interior lights on and still be ready well before 15 min before sunset. Use LighTrac or the TPE app to know exactly when sunset is going to be. This step ALWAYS takes longer than you think it should. I usually have to have help from the homeowner to even find all the light switches.
- Start shooting at 15 minutes before sunset. The best twilight shots are usually earlier than you think they will be.
- Shoot in RAW. This will give you more options in post. Correcting the WB is not going to destroy your image.
- Shoot over a time span of about 30 minutes (15 min before sunset to 15 min after sunset) and take a shot every few minutes. This should give you a chance to getting a good image before the street lights come on. If your street light is like mine, it won’t even come on until you are finished.
Does anyone else have suggestions for Andy?