Dinant from Dusk to Dawn – Why Taking Photo in Blue Hour?
This article is made to answering questions why most of my landscape-cityscape photos are taken in a blue hour. My last photo shoots in Dinant was taken as an example in this article. Still using my trustworthy camera Fujifilm X-T1 and Samyang lens 12mm f2.0 as a perfect combination taking moments in the beautiful scenery of Dinant, Belgium.
Not also to forget, some tips and tricks for the twilight hunter (photographer).
++About photo location
Dinant is a Walloon city, the French-speaking region of Belgium and municipality located on the River Meuse, in the Belgian province of Namur.
It’s about 90 km South-East from Brussel.
People know that Dinant is also the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, who invented the saxophone. Therefore you will find a lot of saxophone monuments around the city.
++What is a blue hour?
There is a reason, why good photography is all about light and golden timing/moment. Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, knowing the light is the key.
On a clear day, the day that you will not find any dramatical weather rain and clouds, the transition between day and night can be a colorful scene, with the indirect sunlight tinting the sky. It can be blue, yellow, orange, and red, sometimes magenta.
The blue hour refers to the period of twilight when the Sun is so far below the horizon that the light’s blue wavelengths taken place than others spectrum. To catch this spectrum, taking the picture with long exposure is essential.
This event is just before the appearance of the sun or just after it, when the light is soft enough to emphasize most of the dark of the scene, and yet not so dark that it requires the use of an additional light source. A dramatic and dynamic photo might be there, coming from the combination of the blue color of the sky scatters by only the short-wave blue light, reflected the atmosphere and the artificial light coming from the lamp on the streets, light from houses, cars etc.
++ Why is it blue?
The different colors of twilight are created by an atmospheric scattering effect. The angle of the Sun above or below the horizon changes during the transition between day and night, the Earth’s atmosphere filters out different wavelengths of lights and leaving the remaining rays of light to color the sky in ever-changing hues. Therefore you will see a different sky color during that phase.
However, during the blue hour, the Sun is so far below the horizon (some books said between 4° to 6° from the horizon) that the atmosphere scatters only the short-wave blue light, sending it back to Earth. Meanwhile, the longer red wavelengths pass through it and into the sky. Even though it’s so sound like theoretically correct but this phenomenon is used by us, as a light hunter – photographer – to capture the moment. Taking advantage of the blue hour to emphasize the beauty of the scenery.
It really depends upon the geographical location and the season, the duration and the time when a blue hour start might vary.
This is why it is so important to thoughtfully plan for a right timing when your traveling. Predicting them is compulsory in travel photography.
You’d be ready for your photo equipment as well, and wait for the perfect timing.
++ Tips and Tricks
- Planning: time planning when you’ll arrive at which position would be the best location for taking pictures of beautiful scenery. Use google maps for finding the best position or googling the local photo that might inspire you. The timeanddate.com’s Sun Calculator can be used to find out when the Sun will be at just the right angle at your shooting location.
- Timing: a perfect timing might come in anytime. but the golden rule as follows:
- Sunrise: during this part of the day the Blue Hour starts around 30 minutes prior to sunrise.
- Sunset: during the sunset, the Blue Hour roughly starts 10 to 15 minutes after the sun has set.
- if you get no clear sky, some motion of clouds would make your scenery even more dramatic but cloud means the duration of a blue hour might be shorter as it used to be since cloud would make your sky so dark and so dense.
This picture was taken in 3 different time: at noon (about 2 hours before the blue hour), in blue hour (sunset), and golde time in sunrise (the day after) in the same location. You will see the dramatical color spectrum, different for each phase.
Artificial lighting of buildings plays an important role in urban and city photography, as you might see above.
3. Equipment: Tripod is a must !! and don’t even to forget to leave the tripod mounting plate at home! Make sure that that significant equipment with you before you decide to take blue hour scenery. TIPS for me is to use a universal Arca-swiss mounting system for your tripod and camera. I’m using fujifilm MHG-XT1 which is mounted on the bottom of my X-T1 so it is always ready to be mounted to my Arca-Swiss ball head tripod.
4. Location: Try different location during the blue hour. It’s a bit tricky since the blue hour might be so short, but find a perfect location and its variation will cost you a wonderful view. Here as an example, I took different location in the same period of time: sunrise. ( you need to be fit to run catching a lovely scene in different locations 🙂 )
5. Local element: try to include the local element into your scenery, like statue, bridges etc. In this example, I try to take the picture under the bridge and take all elements that unique from Dinant, included in the photo
So, happy hunting.