the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

After Sunset? Don’t be Blue, Keep Shooting

Tatoosh Twilight

Tatoosh Range, Mount Rainier National Park, 40 minutes after sunset, 101-second exposure at f/8, ISO 400

Western Washington has had nice summer weather most of July. Most evenings, there have been few if any clouds, which of course makes for very boring sunset shots. However, when the weather is like this, the hour after sunset brings gorgeous light. Even as it gets too dark for humans to see color well, there are wonderful colors out there to be recorded by your camera.

The period after the sunset (and before the sunrise) is called the blue hour.  During the blue hour, sometimes the light is blue, as a result of the blue sky, but other times it is wonderfully warm. This warm light has been referred to as salmon light by the guys over at Photo Cascadia. Whether blue or salmon light, these cloudless evenings can make for good photography. For some reason, I’ve found better luck with the blue hour after sunset rather than before sunrise, but maybe that’s because it’s so hard for me to get out of bed in the morning (especially when the sun rises before 6 a.m., like it is doing now).

I’ve found a online calculator  (by JetKo Photo) for determining when the blue hour will occur. However, I’m not sure one is really needed. All you need to know is that after the sun sets, keep the camera out and keep shooting away, even as it gets quite dark. All you need is a tripod and a camera that allows for long exposures. Many DSLRs, in the auto exposure modes, will only allow shutter speeds up to 30 seconds long. When hunting blue hour shots, be prepared to go to manual mode and use the the blub setting on the camera. (Don’t make the same mistake I did recently when first using my newest camera in the blue hour – learn how to set it to blub before setting out).

So after sunset, don’t get blue and put your camera away. Keep that camera out and capture the blue hour.

Green River at Dinosaur

Green River at Dinosaur National Monument, 32 minutes after sunset, 30 seconds at f/10, ISO 200

Olympic Twilight

Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains from Ebeys Landing, Whidbey Island, Washington, 19 minutes after sunset, 1.3 seconds at f/10, ISO 100

Bisti Morning

Bisti Wilderness, New Mexico, 12 minutes before sunrise, 20 seconds at f/16, ISO 100

Ecola Twilight

Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park, Oregon, 32 minutes after sunset, 10 seconds at f 3.2, ISO 100

13 responses

  1. Beautiful work

    July 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm

  2. Pingback: Sunset | fibijeeves

  3. Reblogged this on afifmrabbani.

    July 26, 2013 at 7:41 am

  4. Some lovely shots! I agree… that time when most people give up and leave, has some of the richest light.

    July 28, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    • Even knowing so I often give up early. It’s hard staying when the light fades and it is quite dark to the eye.

      July 29, 2013 at 7:21 am

  5. peaktopeakadventure

    Very informative. I look forward to more lessons and of course, the magnificent shots. Great work.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    • Thanks! I appreciate your comment.

      August 17, 2013 at 11:46 am

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