The Blue Hour.
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Hi fellow photographers,
The question is are you taking advantage of blue hour? If your response was, blue hour? Well this is for you my dear friend. The fact is if you are not using this divine moment to capture beautiful images. You may be passing up great opportunity.
This brings me to the question.
Do you even Blue Hour?
The blue hour is the period of twilight during dawn each morning and dusk each evening when the sun is a considerable distance below the horizon, therefore the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. During the Blue Hour typically lasting between forty minutes to one hour, approximately one hour before dawn or one hour after sunset. The dynamic range of the scene drops significantly. Creating a plethora of opportunity for magical photographs.
Above image setting: ISO 400 f8 20 seconds
The advantages of Blue Hour:
*The rich blue hue in the sky.
This effect is caused by the relative diffusion of short blue wavelengths of light versus the longer red wavelengths. In built up city scenes this will bring your image to life. The rich blue hue against the skyscrapers illuminated glow can be a viewers and artists delight. So be early in the morning and hang around for the show in the evening.
Above image setting: ISO 50 f11 10 seconds
*Longer exposure times without filters.
Want to gain results like the professionals, who say no filters were used. This time of day if just what the photography doctor ordered. Great effects like blurred milky water and dramatic streaking clouds may be on the menu. So close your aperture down and stretch out the exposure time, to gobble up the tasty treat that is Blue Hour.
Above image setting: ISO 100 f8 15 seconds
*Glowing moon rises and sets.
During the blue hours amazing light, if you plan correctly to line up the moon in your scene for a capture. You will be surprised at the ease of exposure. The moonlight can really be complimentary to the scene if used creatively. Place the moon on a third in your composition, maybe between buildings or tors. Use the light emitted from the moon to light whole mountain ranges up using a higher ISO.
Planning the positioning can be done quiet easily with an App called The Photographer's Ephemeris or "TPE". It is available for Apple and Android. A lot of people are using it, however if you are not. This is one to check out. I find it very handy indeed.
The app works just like google maps. With the added feature of the location for sunrise,sunset and for the moon. The moon is represented by the light blue and blue lines over a google maps page. Light blue for moon rise and dark blue for moon set. The trajectory can be planned by scrolling across the tab at the bottom of the screen. You can plan ahead by selecting the date and see the times and direction of either the sun or moon.
Above image setting: ISO 200 f10 1second
*The lack of people around.
For the individuals willing to miss out on a tad more sleep. The lack of people around is amazing. Making it very serene even in largely built up or tourist attraction areas. So enjoy the calmness of the concrete giants without the fuss of humanity cluttering it’s arteries. Being early may even increase your chance of securing the best spot before other photographers arrive. They who enjoy the snooze button a little more, than the perfect shot. Will always have to take second best. As they say "The early bird gets the worm."
Above image setting: ISO 100 f14 25 seconds
*Man made light sources.
Use the man made light sources available in your scene creatively to enhance your image. Even make the lighting the star of your image.
Above image setting: ISO 100 f11 20 seconds
*Nautical sunrise and sunset.
This is the point where sailors can first or last see the horizon at sea. Particularly in remote areas where making use of this time will be most beneficial to gaining top results. So rug up get and out of your tent in the dark and go for the adventure. As when you can just see the horizon it is possible to capture an air glow and stars in a single frame with reasonable camera settings. Therefore resulting in minimal digital noise and maximum sharpness. With wide angle lenses open up your aperture to gain the use of a lower ISO and faster shutter speed time.
Above image setting: ISO 800 f 5.6 10 seconds for sky then immediately after ISO 100 f8 15 seconds for foreground.This allowed more dynamic range and less noise to pull out the shadows in the foreground.Luminosity mask with screen blend mode used to layer stars with out noise.
*Last light glow.
Remember all the times you gasped "Photoshop" you very well may be wrong. The key here is to wait, and if all the conditions are right you may even be lucky enough to witness the last light glow. You would have seen this in photographs by artists like, Ken Duncan and Mark Gray. The glowing red earthy features that make a landscape seem so special and dreamy. It's all about the saying. "It's not over till it's over".
Things to keep in mind. This shot will usually take place when you believe the scene is done. This is the time when photography can see more than the human eye. Use the light available as side light and don’t be afraid to over expose by a stop or daringly, a stop and a half. Stretch out the exposure time without filters and capture the blue hues and refracted long wavelength red light to capture lovely lilac glowing scenes.
Above image setting: ISO 1250 f2.8 4 seconds. For sky. ISO 100 f11 1/2 second foreground. Extreme sky setting to draw more light from the scene.
Now I have enlightened you on a few secrets, I hope to see you enjoying more aspects of photography. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Shoot on feeling not statistics. Open that shutter for a five minute period. If you never try, you can’t expect to succeed. After all, in a digital world you can just delete it and take another. If you miss the shot, who cares. The Sun will rise and set again tomorrow. It can take years of visiting a spot to actually get the shot.
Last but not least, stay safe. Rug up with warm clothing and or sleeping equipment, travel with spare batteries for your torches, tell someone where you are going. Always have either enough beer or water to last your trip.
Get out and enjoy blue hour.
All the best,