“Penombra” is Italian for dim-light, or half-light, which describes my favorite lighting conditions perfectly. Unfortunately for me, I have this thing about sleeping until it’s a little lighter than that, and I like eating dinner, so my natural half-light photography opportunities are minimal. Once in a while though, usually on a hot summer night, I stumble into the perfect situation. This year it happened with a cannoli in one hand, camera in the other, as I wandered into Boston’s North End with Clara, just expecting to get a couple of good shots.

The big trick for shooting people after (or before) golden hour is to shoot somewhere with a lot of available light, so a busy cityscape is the obvious choice. A tripod isn’t usually an option, unless I’m going for a purposeful blur, so my go-to is a fast lens shot wide open. From there I try to keep my ISO as low as I can get away with, that’s easier if you can find a spot with light both in front and behind the subject. The black and white shots below were taken on a very dark street corner, you can tell from the grain, but I enjoyed the cinematic look they achieved.

This was my 40 billionth shoot with Clara, and even though it wasn’t planned, we once again somehow wound up with balloons.

It was worth seeking out a brighter location, using headlights and street lights to illuminate the scene and allow for a sharper, less grainy photo. Since evening light is pretty unpredictable, it’s almost always a good idea to keep moving around to see what you can grab in camera.

My favorite location wound up being a tiny little doorway lit with one small street lamp from either side of where I positioned Clara. This gave me an intriguing directional light with lots of shadows. It made for a similar cinematic look to what I’d started with, but with enough ambient light to keep the grain at bay.

As usual, shooting at night gave me my favorite photos of the summer season, many more than just a couple. But maybe, like cannoli consumption, it’s a good thing I only get the chance once a year or so. Some things should stay special.



  • Date: Tuesday July 10th, 2017
  • Location: North End- Boston, MA
  • Photography: Kayt Silvers
  • Model: Clara