Nightly Night Photo – Venice Arsenale Isolation

Twilight, blue hour, magic hour, dusk, dawn, crepuscular—whatever you want to call it, the period when the sun is below the horizon but is still contributing light to the atmosphere is usually the best time to shoot cityscapes because that’s when the illumination in the sky most closely matches the lighting in the foreground surroundings. Once twilight is over, there is often too much contrast for those grand scenics.

Some photographers look at the end of evening twilight as the time to pack up the camera and head for a restaurant or a bed. I say the night has just begun!

The solution to dealing with too much contrast in a cityscape is simple. Just forget about the big view. Think ISOLATIONS. Stuff the wide-angle lens in your pack and put on the 70-200. Look for intimate scenes that are receiving even illumination.

Photo of Venice Arsenale at night

Nikon D700, Nikon 70-300 lens, f/5.6, 1/4 second, ISO 200

In most cities, these kinds of scenes are everywhere. Even in Venice, which has very few streetlights—or any other kind of night lighting for that matter—there are lots of opportunities for isolations.

The entrance to the famed Arsenale has a couple of lights that stay on all night, and while they don’t provide enough illumination for a good wide-angle view, they work beautifully for silhouetting the gates and statues that stand in front.

I backed up and shot this scene with a focal length of 240mm so I could effectively isolate Neptune and his trident. I could have thrown some light painting on the statue, but I much prefer silhouettes with nicely lit backgrounds like this.

Of course, the real problem with all of this for night photographers is that it means there is always something to shoot, which means there is no time to eat, sleep, and drink red wine.

But I found a solution for that, too. Take care of the eating and sleeping part during the day. For the wine-drinking part, everyone has a cup holder on their tripod, don’t they?

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