The Blue Hour
All you have to do is be there with your camera gear and wait for the Blue Hour. Simple formula for dynamic landscapes!
Actually, I had an hour and a half in the early evening and went exploring for photo sites along the beach while I was in Evanston. I pulled up to the curb along the shore of the Evanston Beach, just south of Northwestern University, as I have countless times. I sat in the car, looking out the window for several minutes, talking myself in and out of getting out of the car. I’ve been there so many times. I felt like I wanted something more dynamic than just “another beach photo.” Eventually, I got out and grabbed my camera with one lens (85mm) and tripod and started walking up to the water. As luck would have it, the sky exploded into a vivid, rich blue…it was The Blue Hour. Here’s the description from Wikipedia:
“The blue hour (from French l’heure bleue) is the period of twilight early in the dawn each morning and late in the dusk each evening when the sun is at a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue.” We’ve all seen it, but may not have known the term. Landscape photographers know this, for sure!
Actually, the first picture I saw was this one (above) with the couple taking a selfie. I got so excited about the “scene” in front of my eyes that I didn’t even get a chance to pull out all the legs of my tripod! Instead, I just loosened one leg and ended up using the tripod as a monopod to stabilize the photo since it was pretty dark and I was using a very slow shutter speed. I actually did do some creative processing with this photo…can you tell what? More on that later.
After taking the photo of the couple, I walked out on the pier (see the background of the selfie photo) and hung out with other people out there who were marveling at “the show.” Pretty spectacular, actually! But the dog preferred to not watch and, instead, cuddled between his master’s legs.
Eventually, the people and the dog left. It was getting cold and more windy, and the tide had started moving in a bit, making the waves wash up along the pier. I took some photos with a slow shutter speed and the camera on the tripod. I just tried to wait for a dramatic moment.
Then, I moved into a new location and started to photograph another location (two photos above). I tried to catch the specific moment of the waves crashing. By this time it was darker and I was using an even slower shutter speed! Close to one second exposures. That helps give the water a creamy appearance and a sense of motion
At this point, I looked at my watch and realized I had better be quick to get back to pick up Judy…I had been out there at least an hour and had hardly noticed the time had gone by so quickly.
As long as we were in Evanston, we decided to stop, before heading home, and have a fantastic dinner at Dave’s New Kitchen and see our friends there, Dave and Ellen Glatt. Check it out!
Oh yeah…did you figure out what I changed in the photo of the couple taking the selfie? I noticed that two of the street lights were turned on, but the one closest to me and them was not. So, I turned it on, so to speak, so it wouldn’t stand out. No, I didn’t “Photoshop it!” (That’s a misused term, anyways!) Using Lightroom (an excellent photography cataloging and editing software), I “painted” the glass fixture and applied a warming tint to the specific area to make the lamp appear to be lit. .
Keep your eyes open for the Blue Hour!!
Thanks for stopping by!
Stephen M. Levin
Facebook – @stephenmlevinphotography
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