Instant Inspiration (33) – Shoot in the Blue Hour

1/6 sec | f/6.3 | ISO 1600

“Instant Inspiration” is my series for you if you look for something to overcome “Photographer’s Block” or simply want to shoot something that you have never tried, or at least not recently.

Sunday late afternoon I took The Significant Other and her Mom on a walk on the Streets of Nuremberg to look at the christmas lights in the city. A perfect opportunity for some blue hour shooting.

1/3 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 1600

The term blue hour refers to the special coloration of the sky during the time of evening twilight, i.e. the time after sunset and before nightfall, when the sun is about 4 to 8 degrees below the horizon. The blue of the sky has a different spectral composition because it is due to a different physical cause than during the day. During the blue hour, this deep blue sky has about the same brightness as the artificial light of building and street lighting. This is one of the reasons why the blue hour plays a special role in photography.

1/3 sec | f/11 | ISO 1600

The blue hour is also independent of weather conditions. You get the same blue effect, regardless if you have clear skies or if it is overcast like during our Sunday evening walk. The blue of the sky combines beautifully with any kind of yellow or gold (or warm white – as modern LED light color temperature is called). Shooting with my OM-D E-M1X and the mZuiko 12-100 F/4, I had set my ISO to 1600. Using apertures between f/4 and f/11, resulting in shutter speeds between 1/3 and 1/6 sec. With the awesome image stabilization of the Olympus camera, you can hand hold this rather slow shutter speeds without any problems and still get sharp results. Which is kind of neat, because it saves the hustle of carrying and setting up a tripod.

1/6 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 1600

A nice side effect of the Covid restrictions is that you get to experience perspectives that you usually don’t get to see. Like here on Nuremberg’s main market in the Old Town, were you can see the beautiful Church of Our Lady with the brightly lit Christmas tree in front, combined with the splendid features of the “Schöner Brunnen” (Beautiful Fountain), a 14th-century fountain built by Heinrich Behaim, considered one of the main attractions of the city’s Historical Mile. The fountain is approximately 19 meters high and has the shape of a Gothic spire. This time of the year, the view of the bottom half of the church with the Christmas tree would be completely blocked by the stalls of the Christmas market.

1/13 sec | f/4 | ISO 1600

In this photograph of a wooden Madonna I managed to capture the blue hour from inside the 13th century St. Sebald church.

When walking back towards the car, we crossed the Pegnitz river via the Kettensteg. Constructed in 1824, it is considered the oldest preserved iron chain bridge in continental Europe. As you can see, the sky has meanwhile changed to the dark blue of the upcoming night. Blue hour lasts really for only about 60 minutes, so get out there and maximize your time capturing the magic of the bright blue sky.

There is a nice side story to the title image (the one with the protruding house chapel in the St. Sebald parish house next to the Sinwell tower of the Imperial Castle). I posted the image on my Instagram, were it was picked up by Nuremberg’s official Instagram account and featured as image of the day. The photograph was indeed kind of special as the 14th century “Chörlein” (the house chapel) has been renovated for years and has just been recently cleared of scaffolding. But not enough, Marcus König, the mayor of Nuremberg, picked up the photo as well and featured it in his Instagram story of today. Which all is kind of nice 🙂

But back to the blue hour episode of the “Instant Inspirations”, get your creative juices flowing, grab your camera and do your daily visual push ups by going out and photographing in the blue hour. Something that you can do anywhere outside and despite the lockdown restrictions. Most of all, have fun!

If you look for more “Instant Inspirations”, you will find them and all my Street Photography quick tips in my free Learning Center.

Wish you all a great Tuesday!


Related Posts:

Instant Inspiration (28) – Handholding slow shutter speeds

Instant Inspiration (20) – Backlit Fountain

Blue Hour on the Pegnitz

Willamette Blue Hour

4 thoughts on “Instant Inspiration (33) – Shoot in the Blue Hour

Add yours

  1. ohhhhh love these! And thank you for the inspiration. I may have to take myself for an evening walk. I have a canon with image stabilization so will try and see what I can do without a tripod.

  2. Kind of nice? I’d say that was very, very nice. The mayor has good taste! 😉 These are all splendid views of your city. The last one makes me feel like I’m there. It marries street and architecture photography perfectly. I like to go out late in the day (these days it’s actually early afternoon!) and photograph until the sun sets. The image stabilization on the OM-D EM-1 is a big plus but sometimes there’s more noise in the file than I would like. What’s your favorite fix for too much noise?

    1. Thanks, Lynn 🙂 ! I’m using noise reduction in Lightroom Classic. That works quite well and gets me natural looking results, if I need them. That said, up to ISO 1600 the Olympus files don’t really need noise reduction. At least as long as you don’t brighten the shadows too much.

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