Night Photography – Desert Ridge Resort AZ

Balancing available and natural lighting can make or break a night image. In situations such as skylines, lighted buildings, interiors with exterior window views, photographers rarely have the control over the lighting, except in commissioned situations, and even then not always. So timing is crucial.

The best time to balance the natural sky and available lighting is an hour or so before sunrise or after sunset. During this time the sky will balance well with most normal lighting used for exterior scenes, and create a pleasing backdrop for the subject matter.

The following are a few quick images I took while at the Desert Resort in AZ. I had no control over the lighting at the resort, but they do illustrate what can be accomplished with no added lights and good timing.


One of the earlier images, the sky is almost too bright to suggest a true night shot.

Overall, the balance between the sky and the ambient lighting is good. Although the color doesn’t really suggest a night image. This was kind of a cheat shot, as the lighting is coming from the distant city lights. When you have no control over the lighting, you take what you can get.


If allowed, a couple of lights to illuminate the foreground would really enhance this image.

The sky in this image is balanced well, and makes for a nice effect. It might be a little bright, but if I darkened the sky the foreground elements would also darken. Waiting a little longer would darken the sky and improve the image without effecting the foreground elements.

Unfortunately, in this area the trees were not lit as was the case in other areas in the resort, and thus lack detail and interest. That really kills this image for me. But I like the balance between the pool, distant buildings, and the sky.


Good balance between sky and building. Foreground a little dark and needing supplemental lighting.

This image was taken a few minutes later in the evening, better balancing the sky and ambient lighting. The sky is deeper in color, and stars are visible. I’m not really fond of the composition, the umbrellas, and darker foreground and uneven light in the pool.


A nice image, but could be better with control over lighting

Overall, this is a well balanced image with regard to the sky and ambient lighting. I would have loved to back light the water falling, add some foreground lights to accentuate the structure. Some of that can be performed in post, but having the ability to add lighting would clearly enhance this image.


Sky getting darker and darker as the evening progresses.

Almost past its prime, the sky is loosing detail, color, and falling toward black. Any later in the evening, and the results would be less than ideal. I do love the trees lighted as they are, and the balance with the buildings in the background. I would have loved to move the chairs hiding the pool and cluttering the right side of the image, adding more on the trees.


Taken later in the evening, the sky is almost black and lacks interest.

I wish I had time to shoot this composition earlier when they sky was brighter. The sky is too dark for my liking, and I didn’t have an opportunity to re-shoot it as I was due on a plane the next morning.

It was hard to wander around this resort taking photographs without the ability to have more control. Adding some lighting here and there would enhance the existing lighting and accentuate some of the water features and landscapes.


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