Combining Filters and Flash for Twilight Cityscapes

In this video Karl demonstrates an old darkroom technique for photographing a twilight cityscape that allows you to carefully control the exposure of particular areas of the shot.

Instead of graduated filters, Karl uses ND filters in a creative way to basically create the same effect as burning and dodging, but during a long exposure.

This technique is particularly useful if you’re in an environment where graduated filters don’t block light in the right areas.

By using this burn and dodge technique, we’re able to darken particular areas of the image, similarly to how we would have processed the image in the darkroom. This, combined with a single studio flash, resulted in a creative cityscape image of Basel, Switzerland. And if you don’t have ND filters, Karl also shares a handy, and very affordable alternative that works just as well!

In this landscape photography class we cover the following:

  • How to photograph at twilight
  • Equipment for landscape photography
  • Using filters for landscape photography
  • Using flash with long exposures
  • How to control exposure in an image

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comments section below.


  1. Nicely done. Have been considering to do something similar under Newport Beach, CA pier. Have the Boncolor Siros L 800 WS, would be perfect for this type of shot. Thanks for the info.

  2. Just the other day I was going crazy trying to use a GND filter on a composition that had angles that didn’t conform to the GND. Here’s the answer. Thanks Karl.

  3. Whenever I use a filter in front of my lens, say for taking a sunset shot in the desert with a filter, I get noise on the photograph – some colour and some luminosity noise. How do I need to adjust my settings?

    1. Hi, you don’t need to adjust your settings. If there is no noise without the filter and you keep the same exposure and then there is noise then the noise is from the filter. If the camera is adjusting it’s ISO settings because you added the filter then you should be shooting in manual mode to make sure you are in control of the ISO. There can be no other reasons.

  4. Great tip. I have trouble sometimes light painting, using long exposure and a flash light to light something in the foreground. Foreground element gets blown out, I may try this trick to see if it helps.

  5. Hi Karl!

    Thanks for the tip! I will be sure to try this advise out with moving the filters around in higher exposed areas in the shot.

    All the best!


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