Last month we talked about night time photography. Today let's talk about the time in between night and day. The Blue Hour.
Before we get into The Blue Hour, let me remind you of your last chance to find that perfect present. It's getting close but you can still get it before Christmas, but act now. In addition to prints, we have coasters, mugs, and new this year, tote bags, throw pillows, phone cases and porcelain Christmas ornaments. Just use christmas22 at checkout to receive a 22% discount for anything on the website: Don Peterson Photography.
Now back to Blue Hour. First things first. Most of the text material is from an article in Outdoor Photographer Magazine’s tip of the week. The author for this one is Russ Burden. I've edited it with my own thoughts and all of the photos are mine.
Almost everyone has heard of the Golden Hour, that time just after sunrise and just before sunset. Nice warm colors due the angle of the sun’s rays. But there’s another special time that occurs just a bit before the sun rises and a bit after the sun sets that’s equally as mesmerizing, albeit a bit subtler and gentler. Because it’s more subdued, it doesn’t get noticed as often. That’s a shame because the gentle pastel colors it exudes provides amazing light.
Before sunrise and after sunset have become two of my favorite times to photograph the landscape. Here’s why these times of day should become your favorites too.
The darkness of night slowly surrenders and a short window of time graces the land with delicate and soft hued intense light. A pink to blue prism of color appears in the sky opposite the rising sun. It doesn’t occur all the time, but when it does, it pays to be on location and set up.
Quite often, silhouettes become the dominant subject matter. Be prepared to make multi-second exposures using a stable tripod with a solid head and hope for a calm day.
The magic light of dawn and dusk provide color based on a number of variables: clarity of the horizon where the sun rises, the cloud structure above the rising sun, clarity of the sky 180 degrees from the rising sun, the amount of moisture in the air, along with a few other factors. It’s the job of the photographer to find a good subject and compose it in a way that complements the drama. These photos are at the blue ice fields near the Mackinac Bridge in northern Michigan.
The color changes rapidly and doesn’t last long. At times, it’s extremely intense, and at others, it’s nonexistent. At dawn, it starts out very blue and quickly warms in hue. Within a period of 45 minutes, there’s a remarkable change. As the colors warm up, experiment with the white balance. Daylight will result in what the eye sees. Auto will try to correct it to what the camera thinks is “proper.” Cloudy adds warmth. Shade adds even more toward the yellow/red spectrum.
Be sure to look both ways is not only good advice when crossing the street but here too. Many times the real light show is looking 180 degrees away from the rising/setting sun. Don’t miss it!
With regards to technique, much of this is known, but I never take anything for granted. Be sure to use a solid tripod for long exposures to obtain the necessary and required depth of field. Stop down the lens to a small opening to increase the range of focus. Use a good wide-angle zoom to fine-tune the composition. My arsenal consists of a 10-24mm. To help ensure no camera movement, I use the self-timer or cable release. A grad ND and polarizer are great to enhance or control the drama. Maintain a low ISO to eliminate noise.
When does blue hour start and end? Good question. The best app that I have found that lets me plan for this time is Photopills. There are others but this one seems to have it all. Tremendous help in planning a shoot.
So there you have it. Get out there a little early for your sunrise photos or stay a little later after you sunsets. You won't regret it.
Finally, don't forget to get to the website and use your 22% discount by entering christmas22 at checkout. Do it soon so that it arrives in time for Christmas.
Until next month, take care and may God bless you.