When you first start taking photos, everyone talks about how golden hour is the best time to take photos. However, a lot of people forget to tell you about Blue Hour and how we can create some of the most amazing images just as stunning as golden hour. Blue Hour is usually 30 to 50 minutes before or after golden hour. I typically think of Blue hour as a back up to a sunset or a sunrise that fails to deliver with spectacular clouds and color. Normal Blue Hour usually doesn’t last a full hour but it can last 30 minutes or longer than 1 hour depending on where you are located in the world.
If you’re anything like me and you love to travel but not be a slave to the timetable of the best light of golden hour, then learning how to use Blue Hour is going to benefit you the most in the long run. Not everyone has the time and the luxury of being set-up in the perfect spot to get that sunset shot that everyone dreams of. Trust me, I love being set up and sitting back enjoying the sunset with a glass of wine more than anything but sometimes things just don’t work out. Blue hour is your best option sometimes when traveling which lets you still enjoy your trip and get those fantastic images that you would be proud of. Typically you have around 30 to 40 minute when the blue color of the sky comes out, and you can make the best image at this time. Blue Hour also gives you the ability to not have to rely on HDR techniques of shooting multiple images to capture all the light in the scene. I found after shooting in Blue Hour, you typically only need one or maybe two exposures to create a well-balanced image which has all of the highlight and shadow data. I was able to shoot both the sunset and Blue Hour in Manarola and you can see the examples of it here . I talk about how I was able to create that image of Manarola as well.
Now to talk about this image of the Grand Canal in Venice taken from the Accademia bridge at dusk. It was my first night in Venice and I just had Checked in to our AirBNB apartment near San Marco Square. I knew that one of the places I wanted to capture was the Grand Canal at sunset. I know that to get an image of Grand Canal, I would have to be on one of the many bridges that crosses it. Since the Rialto bridge was under construction and had about 10,000 people on it, I passed on the option of shooting from this location and went to the Accademia bridge instead. After navigating to the spot, the sunset was lacking and dull but I still wanted to get a photo of Grand Canal. I already had plans for the next night doing the Trey Ratcliff Photo-walk, so I waited for Blue Hour and the city lights of Venice to come on and to give the area its romance that everyone speaks about. I really hate traveling to a spot and having to leave and come back on a later day to get the shot that I thought about. Am traveling to have fun, Not to be a slave to my Photography.
What made to create this image hard was the long shutter speed with all the foot traffic crossing over the wooden Accademia bridge. The bridge did bounce when large groups of people crossed it at one time but it just takes being patient and waiting for the right moment in time. Finding an open spot along the rails was kinda hard due to all the people trying taking selfies but I just had to wait my turn till they left. I did get my spot along the railing but I could see this being a lot harder in the peak seasons with more people traveling to Venice.
No. of Exposures: 1 Image
EV Range: Aperture mode: 1.6 Secs
Focal Length: 29mm
Lens: Canon 17-40 F/4
Camera: Sony A7R
Software: LR5/PS/Nik ColorEfex/ OnOne
What I want people to take away from this post is that you don’t always have to plan your trip around Golden hour to make an amazing image. You can relax and enjoy what a traveling gives you instead. If you have any questions about this image, my travels, or post editing of this image, please feel free to ask me in the comments down below.