Pantheon Fountain Rome Italy Dawn

Just before dawn at the Pantheon






















One of my favorite times of day to photograph is twilight – especially in old, well-lit cities like Paris or Rome.  There’s just something about the way the warm lighting highlights beautiful architectural details against the backdrop of a cobalt blue twilight sky.  I love it.

The problem?  Twilight only lasts about 15 or 20 minutes (at least for photographic purposes).  It’s nice that we have both a morning twilight and an evening one, so you can make use of this magical time twice each day.  But it still goes by all too fast.

So how do we make the most of that 4:30am wake-up alarm?  One strategy that I use nearly every time I shoot twilight is Directional Planning.  That’s not an official term, but it works for me.

Since the sun rises in the East, my first shots are planned in that general direction.  My next ones would be either North or South.  The final shots of the morning twilight would be West.  This stretches the amount of available time by a significant amount – in some cases giving me 45 minutes of great shooting.

I know that’s still not a lot of time, and believe me, there are moments of panic where I’m running hard to the next spot knowing I’m going to just ‘miss it’ by a few minutes.  But you would be surprised at how much can be squeezed into a single twilight shoot if you plan ahead.

All the shots in this post were made on the same morning.  By employing Directional Planning, I was able to cover a lot of territory – making the most of my time.  And I got a workout at the same time.

Trevi Fountain Rome Italy Twilight Dawn

Just before dawn at the Trevi Fountain

St Peters Basilica Cathedral Dome Vatican Catholic Pope

Just before dawn - the amazing dome of St. Peters Basilica

St. Peters Basilica Piazza San Pietro Vatican Rome Italy

First light of dawn on St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Rome Italy