Some of us are daytime photographers, others do night photography, and the rest just dabble across both. But what if you didn’t have to choose?
What if we told you there was a way you can create a single image that will show day to night photography together?
You would probably be as stunned as we were when we first saw the images from Stephen Wilkes’ aptly named project, ‘Day and Night’. His project became so famous that his shot about the Yosemite park made it to the cover of the Geographic.
Stephen Wilkes spent long hours at the same spot in New York, Paris, Coney Island, or the Serengeti Park to capture the photos. Sometimes he took more than 1500 photos to create one day to night image.
The good news is that you can recreate the same effect with much less effort. And you don’t even have to leave your home.
The idea is simple. You capture two images, one during the daylight hours, and another during the nighttime.
The magic happens in the post-editing of the images, but if you are familiar with HDR, it won’t be too taxing. You will combine the two photos into one single image.
How to Find the Perfect Location
First, you need to find a place to capture your day and night photographs. This location can be anywhere, but it needs to be a large area with some interesting elements. Also, the area needs to be used in both daytime and nighttime.
A great example of this would be to have something that will light up at nighttime, such as buildings. This will help to ensure that part of the scene isn’t dull.
If you scroll through Stephen Wilkes picture gallery, you can find some ideas and inspiration. He photographed the always busy Times Square in New York, the Trafalgar Square in London or the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
But you can choose a simple solution and photograph your home too.
Visualise how the scene is going to look like. Can you see two areas in your image that will work well at both contrasted times of the day? Will the places have enough light? Where are the two ideas going to meet?
By imagining the scene play out in front of you, you can have a better idea of how you are going to make it work.
How to Set Up Your Gear
Let’s make sure you have all the gear you are going to need:
- Camera with Lens. This can be a DSLR or Mirrorless system. As long as you can shoot in RAW format, your camera is fine. In terms of lens choice, you want to use something that gives you a wide enough angle of view to capture a big area. A wide-angle len will work well.
- Tripod. The tripod is going to hold your camera steady.
- Shutter Release Cable. A shutter release cable is going to take the image without you physically pressing the shutter release on the camera. This will minimalise camera shake, resulting in sharp, high-quality images.
Any equipment that you may use for a landscape or architectural photograph will work well here.
You can use neutral density filters, but it is only an option. You will need to work them into your camera settings.
In terms of camera settings, the RAW format is a must. This image format holds much more information than that of a jpeg image, which allows more play in post-editing.
You are going to be working in low light conditions, so a low ISO is needed for the best quality.
Use a closed down aperture, such as f/22 to keep the whole scene in focus. If you have many moving parts, such as leaves and people, consider a fast shutter speed above all.