2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – June 2008

Start Smart: Shoot Low-Light Photos

Master dawn and dusk photographs with these pro tips.

by: Berne Broudy

photo icon  STEADY SHOT TIP:
  To prevent blurry photos, lean against a tree and press the shutter button after you finish exhaling.

  See more reader and Backpacker photos in our gallery page.
WAKE UP EARLY OR SCOUT A LOCATION before dark if you want to take memorable shots, says pro photographer Seth Resnick. "At sunrise and sunset, rays of soft, low-angle light paint the sky and the ground with brilliant colors." But that's also when most consumer cameras struggle to produce a good shot. Fog and heavy foliage can also scramble your camera's light sensor, even if your eyes don't perceive the darkness. Here's how to overcome three photo pitfalls when the light is only half there. 

Problem: Background vanishes
Solution: Turn off the flash to force the camera to gather all the ambient light. Set up a tripod and self-timer–a slower shutter speed means any movement (even pressing the shutter button) could blur the image. We like the lightweight (1.6 oz) Gorillapod tripod ($25, For digital cameras with manual settings, experiment with ISOs of 400 or higher for increased light sensitivity. Warning: High ISOs can add more noise (discontinuous colored dots) to digital images.

Problem: Subject doesn't pop
Solution: Shoot from an angle where the available natural light or reflection illuminates your subject. Or, use your headlamp to highlight the people or objects you want to be brighter than the background. During long exposures, deploy a headlamp like a manual flash by shining it on places you want to illuminate more.

Problem: Background is too dark and close
Solution: Point the flash away from your subject and diffuse it by bouncing it off a light-colored jacket or natural feature like birch bark. Alternatively, turn off the flash and change your angle to shoot a silhouette against a lighter background like a campfire or a glowing horizon at sunrise or sunset.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Aug 14, 2008

Better tripod for backpacking/travel? Small balloon filled with sand, like the ones they hand out at health fairs. Works awesome for molding to any environment and setting up your camera.

Jul 22, 2008

Hm. Vaguely helpful, although not what I was looking for...


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Who Has The Lowest REI Member Number?
Posted On: Apr 17, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
The Political Arena
Knife control?
Posted On: Apr 17, 2014
Submitted By: Scot

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions