How To Create Stunning Portraits During Twilight?

People often click portraits during sunset and sunrise to get the effect of golden hour in their pictures, making the subject and background look really beautiful.

But have you ever tried shooting during Twilight?

Twilight, also known as the Blue Hour, is the small span of time before sunrise and after sunset where the sky becomes a beautiful gradient of blue color. This gradient provides a beautiful backdrop for a stunning portrait.


But the downside to this is, Twilight does not have enough light as the sun has already set. Even increasing ISO to an acceptable amount won’t give enough exposure on the subject, and increasing it more will produce too many grains.

So one has to use a flash! But to get the best out of blue hour using a flash, it’s better to click on tungsten white balance to amplify the natural blue effect in the atmosphere which sadly, gives a very bluish tint that looks really bad on the model’s skin.

So, what can be done? Here’s the process:


1. Settings

Few minutes after sunset, the sky will become deep blue.

In aperture-priority mode, try a wide aperture – f/2.8 or wider if possible. Take a shot of your subject and make a note of your shutter speed.

Switch to manual mode and then apply the same settings. Reduce the shutter speed by one stop to underexpose the photograph.

2. Lighting

Put the color temperature orange (CTO) gel on the flashgun and put it on a light stand.

Fix a diffuser on it, for example, a beauty dish as in this case.

Trigger the flash with wireless flash triggers if you have them, which sit on both your camera’s hot-shoe and under the flashgun.

3. Height

Position the flash about a foot above the model’s head.

Use the broad lighting technique: place the flash on the right or left of the camera(whichever side of the subject’s face you can see most, through the viewfinder).

If the model is looking straight-on, it doesn’t matter which side you pick.

4. Bright eyes

With the flashgun in manual mode, set it to around 1/16th power to expose the subject’s face.

By under-exposing the background and correctly exposing the model with a flash stronger than the ambient light, the subject becomes the brightest part of the frame.

5. Balance

Put the CTO gel over the flash head and set your camera’s white balance to Tungsten.

This change in white balance will make the backdrop even more bluish, but the warm-colored CTO gel will ensure the model’s natural skin tone is maintained relative to the white balance.

6. Clipping

Take another shot.

Check the exposure of the face and observe the histogram to make sure nothing is clipped (bunched up at either end of the histogram).

If your subject is too bright, as in the first shot, decrease the flash power. Increase it if your model appears too dark.

This is the final image:

This is how you will get really beautiful and stunning portraits of your subject in Twilight!

[via techradar] [Cc: MikeJohnsonPhoto]

Have any more tips and tricks regarding shooting during the blue hour? Please comment below!

Also, check out BEAUTY OF A WINDOW! by Alper Yesiltas

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