Maybe you’ve marveled at the great cover photos we’ve had at Moments in the past. We’re fortunate to have experienced photographers working with us on each issue, and their work is amazing. But, this issue’s cover comes with its own story of talent, artistic eye and skill that we wanted to share with you. Photographer Chris Rakoczy, pictured above during the shoot, explains his process.

I wanted a photo that was a little more epic and felt the Hartford city skyline — as seen from the LIFE STAR helipad at Hartford Hospital — with golden sunset light, rich blue skies and sparkling city lights that would provide a great backdrop for our group of heroes. Unfortunately, golden light, blue skies and sparkling cities don’t all happen at the same time! So, this had to be a composite shot.

I began by determining where to put my camera and the group so I could see them in the foreground, the city in the background and have enough sky for the magazine title. I set my camera up on a tripod weighted down with sandbags. It had to stay absolutely steady for the next few hours as I captured frames that I would later dissect and reassemble, combining parts from one time of day with parts from another. For that, the images had to all line up perfectly.


Frame 01 – 3:42 pm

I captured the warm light of late afternoon.



Frame 02a – 4 pm

I set up a flash to the group’s right (camera left) with a diffusion umbrella to soften the light on our heroes. I set up another flash directly behind them to create a sharp edge light around them as if they were lit by the city lights that would eventually come on.

Frame 02b

This is the same frame with parts masked, or made transparent, to show just the parts I kept.


Frame 03a – 4:48 pm

After the group left, I captured nearly 30 more frames a few minutes apart, trying to get just the right shade and color on the skyline. The frame I used was taken at 4:48 p.m.


Frame 03b

This is the same frame with parts masked to show just the parts I kept.



Frame 04a – 5:05 pm

I waited for as dark a sky as I could get for the final shot, wanting as many city lights on and as much contrast with the buildings as possible.


Frame 04b

This is the same frame with parts masked to show just the parts I kept.



The remaining frames show the build-up of masked images, with the group on the earlier afternoon city (Frame 05), then adding the darker city and sky but keeping the warm light on the edges of the buildings (Frame 06), further darkening the sky and adding some clouds for texture (Frame 07), and, finally, adding in all the city lights (Frame 08).

A few subtle adjustments were made to the overall composite before the final image was ready for use.