For #TravelTuesday this week I, Dave Williams, want to give you a quick twilight tip. It’s only for those of you with patience, mind!
I just visited Zermatt, Switzerland, which is made entirely of chocolate! Okay, maybe it’s not made of chocolate, but it’s on that same league of fantasy. The town itself is a beautiful, Alpine skiing paradise, and it’s car-free which makes it all the more exciting. Everywhere you go requires walking unless you want to take an electric taxi (think more golf buggy) or ride a bike. It meant I had to walk up the slopes to the edge of the village to get this selfie: –
And it’s this selfie which inspired me to get this shot: –
But here’s the thing—and if you were watching my Instagram story you’ll know already—this isn’t one shot.
The key to this scene is that the upper half was taken during golden hour, and the lower half was taken during blue hour. It’s a simple process but it involves patience! I found my spot, got my composition sorted, and from that point on I couldn’t move my camera one bit.
I found a fence post, which was sturdy and out of the way, so if any tourists appeared (which they did) I wouldn’t have to move out of their way. I needed my frames to line up exactly and if there was the slightest deviation it would ruin the entire process. I stuck my Platypod Max on the post, securely holding my Nikon D810 and Tamron 24–70mm f/2.8.
The process from here on is simple. First, I took a shot for the sky, using a 10-stop filter to smooth out the clouds (though they were barely moving), and when I had the shot I wanted I simply had to twiddle my thumbs for a little while and wait for the darkness to fall and the lights of the village to come on, then get my second shot without the filter. The removal of the filter was a little tense; I was so scared of moving the camera! But when it was done I was left with these two images: –
All that was left to do was open them in Adobe Photoshop, place one image on top of the other on separate layers, and then use a layer mask to select the components I wanted from each image. Following this, I used the adjustment brush to paint some highlights onto the Matterhorn and the Toblerone mountain in the background, and then straightened everything up using the church spire as my guide for this.
Simple! Taking separate shots at twilight to combine golden hour and blue hour works wonders on an urban scene, and I strongly recommend working on your patience and trying it yourself.