The Blue Light Special …

What is this Blue Light ?  I have heard about it but have never taken advantage of it, until now …

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Blue Light Special 1

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“The blue hour is the period of twilight each morning and evening when the sun is a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. This effect is caused by the relative diffusability of short blue wavelengths of light versus the longer red wavelengths. During the blue “hour” (typically the period is about 40 minutes in length), red light passes straight into space while blue light is scattered in the atmosphere and therefore reaches the earth’s surface. Because of the quality of the light, this period is treasured by artists. Photographers call it “the sweet light.”  wiki

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Blue Light_-4

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The images above were captured around 9:50pm in Northern Michigan.  I did not add a tint to these scenes, they are truly blue photos taken during the ‘blue hour’. When photographing for the richer tone, keep the direction of the sun at your back. In the evening shoot to the East, and for the morning light shoot to the West.

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Blue Light_

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Blue Light Special-4

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The two above images were taken around 5:20am … again, no color added. Not sure I fancy the hue, but this ‘hour’ can produce stunning images.

In English culture the term was used to describe the period of inactivity and uselessness a drinker encounters when pubs and other licensed premises have closed after the lunch-time session (typically 3:30 pm), but have not yet opened for the evening session (typically 6:30 pm). The blue hour has now been largely abolished in England, Scotland, and Wales in favor of all-day opening…. just a fun fact.

Capturing the blue hour requires a steady platform and a longer exposure than normal daytime photos. While many cameras now include image stabilization (VR) either in the camera body or in specific lenses, most of your blue hour exposures  will be long enough to require an actual tripod, … right up my alley. Because of the fading light strength, and a smaller aperture to capture the detail, your exposure will be seconds long.  Some of the water in my images look as smooth as glass, that is due in part to the length of my exposure.

Because I usually shoot with a fixed lens, (one focal length), manual focus, and on a tripod, the VR,(vibration reduction switch), is of no use to me. However, I do have a couple of newer telephoto lenses with the VR feature. Here is a tip worth its weight in gold …  When using a tripod ALWAYS turn the VR switch off. It is counter-productive, and your lens will adjust regardless. The out come is a photo less than sharp. I had to learn this the hard way, I thought it was my eyes. Perhaps you can tell in a few of the above shots where I forgot to turn the VR switch off …. typical and frustrating on my part.

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Blue Light Special-3

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17 thoughts on “The Blue Light Special …

  1. L’Heure Bleue – stunning pics Michelle – and brings childhood memories of a wonderful aroma of the same name.

  2. Picasso had a BLUE period. Love the new chapters in your photographic literature. Never want the novel to end.

  3. Blue by you, stunning and I agree with Elise I do not want the “novel to end”. Keep it coming…….

  4. Michelle, these are so very cool. You sure have an eye. I loved being able to watch you work your magic! The wand that waves over you and your wonderful “instrument” captures every little stunning detail. You, my friend, clearly have answered your calling. These photos are stunning. Loved learning about the “blue light” special as I kept thinking of K-Mart!!

  5. Your eye and creativity just increase with every adventure. The blue light is one of my favorite times. Like living in the now and seeing the future/past, Oh wait, think the Moody Blues have a patent on that. Keep it up. Rocket

  6. Those pictures are certainly the opposite of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses — very interesting!

  7. Michelle-these photos make my heart skip a beat. For real! You have captured not only beautiful images but something very special to me. You go girl!!

  8. I saw these earlier but forgot to comment. Amazing to see captured in photograph what I sometimes overlook in reality of days- noticing the lighting and reflections like in these photo’s. Beautiful reflections!

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