Twilight Time

Rick Sammon’s first comment when I asked about this picture was, “The best time to take a night picture is not at night.” Twilight is a better choice, and that’s when this image was made in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was the first stop for Rick and his wife, Susan, on their six-day tour last April of selected attractions along Route 66.

The trip was no vacation. Their travels were fueled by photography, and Susan had researched and compiled a list of historic places on the fabled route. “We saw the 66 Diner during the day,” Rick says, “and it looked okay…well, actually it looked kind of boring, so we came back later.”

While the scene offered a much better photo op with the diner’s neon glowing in the fading light, Rick wanted to add a little action to it. “Susan and I have done this before: she drives the car in and out of the scene, usually several times before we get the shot we want.” You’re seeing the result of one pass through the scene, but it took 10 tries to get the timing for the image they envisioned. It’s one shot—not a composite, not an HDR image—and it’s the result of thought, effort, and experience.

“We definitely previsualized this,” Rick says. “This is a photo made, not taken.”

There’s a selection of Route 66 images in the Galleries section at Rick’s website,

© Rick Sammon

Tech Talk. Rick used a tripod-mounted Canon EOS 6D and an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens. The exposure was 3.2 seconds at f/22 and ISO 100, with the camera set for aperture-priority exposure and Evaluative metering.

In Talking Pictures we ask photographers to take us inside their images to reveal the stories of the why as well as the how of picture taking and making.