You've probably taken a photo before where the sunset looked beautiful, but the landscape was too dark. By placing a black card over part of your lens, and taking a slow exposure shot, you can take photos like these:

Winner - LA

I shot it on a Canon 7D with a Sigma 30mm at 16 f-stop and 100 ISO at a 10 sec shutter, covered the top of the image with my wallet for for about 7-8 seconds. [Ed note: not exactly a black card, but close enough!] This photo is unedited. This is taken in the hills of Whittier (a suburb of Los Angeles) When I was packing up to leave I remembered this contest and tried out a couple shots, this was the best looking one. I look forward to trying again in the future and giving myself more time.
- Trevor Smith

Boats on the Water

Ghostly boats waiting for the fishermen who have dissappeared into the lights. Taken in West Coast Park, Singapore at 11:20 PM. The picture was made using Canon 550D (T2i) with a 17-55/2.8 lens on a tripod. I did not have a black card, so ended up using a creditcard! No post processing done, besides conversion from RAW . It was a 25 second shot for the empty boats, and the refinery in the background got about 5 seconds. I took a number of shots, this one was the sharpest acceptable one. Aperture was stopped at 7.1, with an ISO of 200, and focal length of 31mm.
- Rahul Nair

Power Line Sunset

Found this "black card" technique very interesting and took me a couple of tries to get this shot… Been watching to catch the clouds with the sunset but not much clouds out when I shot this. However this black card technique gave a really composition of the sunset, looks fantastic. The foreground looks like it was illuminate with moon light but it wasn't, just the technique.
- Daniel Jennings

Even-Lit Liquors

This technique is really useful if you find yourself with imbalanced light conditions. I tried using it in a bunch of locations and this one came out the best. Which was in Allston, MA. With my Canon Rebel XSi I set it to 30" second exposure at f/22.0, manual focus. I blocked out the street lights and 'Liquors' sign with a black card for 20 seconds then the 'Liquors' sign for an additional 5".
- Seth Porter

The Thickets

I took this shot on Sunday evening in Princeton, NJ. I trekked a little ways through some woods to get to the spot just off the road. I didn't actually have a small piece of black paper, so I took a plastic CD case and used that! I tried not to mess with it in PS too much, but I did alter the contrast and brightness just so you could see some more of the trees because they were pretty much black to begin with. Thus, I sacrificed some of the color, but I thought it was better. This was my first attempt at this type of shot, but I'll definitely pull this out of my bag of tricks again! Thanks for making me learn it! Tripod-mounted Canon Rebel XSi, 30 sec, F22, ISO 100
- Jonathan Britt


My original goal was to was shoot my NCC-1701 (Pre-Refit) model in a light box. When it wasn't looking positive, I happened to look out my window and saw the sun setting over the Gatineau Hills with the Saint Brigid's Centre For The Arts (Ottawa, Canada) in the foreground. I shot this with my Cannon Rebel XT, 75-300mm lens. I had the camera set with a 25 second exposure with with the black card covering the sunset for about 15 seconds. I made some minor modifications in RAW and I only used Photoshop for image resizing, even though I really wanted to get rid of those power lines!
- Ray Heath

Sensor Dodge & Burn

This was my final shot in a 9-mile street photography trek that spanned three boroughs. The better part of today had been grey, but the sun peeked out from behind the clouds for about an hour before sunset. I live in Astoria, Queens and as I was returning home, I took a detour by Astoria Park to walk by the water. As the sun dipped below the upper east side skyline the colors began to turn all the delicious shades of gold and red. I remembered reading about the Gizmodo shooting challenge earlier in the week and decided it would be a nice attempt at what I like to call "Sensor Dodge & Burn". Nikon D700 with AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens mounted on a tripod., f16, ISO 100, 1.6 Seconds Exposure.


I used the smallest aperture and the lowest ISO in order to elongate the exposure enough for the "dodging". I didn't have a black card with me so I just used my hand. I set the self timer at 2 seconds so that I wouldn't get camera shake. Because the water was just about as bright as the sky, I shielded everything above the concrete curb for roughly 1.4 seconds, while using a slight jitter motion to prevent a fine line. Only the last fifth of a second was used to expose the sky and water. I made the same attempt about 8 times until I was satisfied with the timing and positioning of the dodging and burning.
- Thanassi Karageorgiou

Self-Illuminating Flowers

Decided for this week's challenge to shoot the LA sunset from Mulholland Drive. Found this overlook with the blooming flowers to make the foreground a bit more interesting. I tried to incorporate two changes in the black card and this was the closest I was ever able to get before I lost the perfect light. First stage was slightly angled and covered everything other than the flowers. The second stage I tried to get the rest of the mountains exposed but didn't quite get it where I wanted it to be. Lastly, I barely let the sky above the horizon get any exposure at all before the shutter closed. Only post processing done in Aperture was a slight increase in color saturation. Other than that this is just how it turned out on its own. Shot on a Canon T2i with Sigma 17-50 2.8. 17mm, ISO 100, f22, exp 0.8sec.
- Jody Abbott

Garden of Good and Evil

I saw this Metallic globe in a garden with the moon shinning in it, but it just didn't have enough light to fully utilize the black card, so I used a single candle.


I originally had the candle placed off to one side and had the black card blocking the left side of the frame, but I wanted to try something new and different, so I placed the candle in the middle and used the black card vertically in the middle of the frame to cover the flame. It was extremely difficult to get it just right.
There is still some of the black card in the shot, but I like to think of it as the darkness separating good (cherub) and evil (diabolic globe of malevolence). Nikon D90, 50mm, f4.5, Shutter- 5.5sec (Black card exposed for approx 4.5sec)
- Bryan Burra


This was my second outing to this park in an attempt to get some photos for this challenge. The first night was too cold so I rushed and stayed near the car. The second night was nice enough that I wandered around looking for the perfect spot to set up my tripod. I was a bit hesitant because this was at a ledge right over the water and getting to it was a bit precarious but once I got the shot with the correct black card exposure, it was worth it. Shot with Canon 5d Mark II, 24-105mm lens at 28mm, f/18, 1.3sec, ISO100 with Cokin ND8 and GND8 filter.
- Winnie Tsui

Excellent entries to this week's Shooting Challenge. If you haven't been participating because Gawker Contest Rules don't allow non-US submissions, know that we're updating those guidelines for next week. Everyone everywhere is free to send their shots in to Shooting Challenges.

Find full-size versions of these photos on flickr.

Mark Wilson is the founder of photography blog Life, Panoramic as well as Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.