Blue hour : Gastown

  • July 12, 2013 · 9:00 PM
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After sunset the quality of light changes again; twilight is a wondrous time between day and darkness when the sky can turn a wonderful pale glowing blue. During this extended after-glow of day, it's a good occasion to practice taking photographs during the blue hour. We'll spend this time in an appropriate spot, Gastown.

The "heavenly shades of night" are backdrops to the city lit up, the blinking and streaking multi-colored lights, the busy streets and the amber glows of the switched on hives. So, we'll spend the end of the day and take city-scapes, skylines, light trails and people too.

Crown Fountain at Blue Hour by Chris Smith

Perhaps you don't put away your camera when the sun goes down or you appreciate the changing colors of the atmosphere or you like the bright lights of the big city. It could definitely be fun and influence our process. So let's go capture some dramatic scenes.

Bring your tripod and a cable-release if you have them, they're highly recommended in these occasions. And for any film buffs out-there, try to have some high ISO rated film, 800 and above.

L'heure bleue, as per calculators begins after sunset, about 21:15, and ends about an hour later.

Here are a couple of pages about the subject to get you started, but I encourage you to seek out information.
Light Stalking
APN photography school

The Walk-about
We'll explore Gastown; we'll cut loose. We'll meet at the statue of "Gassy" Jack (see map) at 21:00 (9:00 pm), make introductions, ask questions about the topic and then set ourselves loose to have fun and take photos. And to have time to set up.

We will end the Meetup at 22:30 (10:30 pm) back at the statue. From there we will make our way to Six Acres (203 Carrall Street, behind "Gassy" Jack) for 22:30 (10:30 pm) where we can catch up for drinks and conversations.

The Aim
The function of the group is to learn and practice the techniques of photography. This involves learning photography not only from your guides but also by sharing knowledge with your group-mates. The intention is also to organize and get to know new people. The attendant size of the meets will be small so participants can have the opportunity to get to know all their group-mates and spend time with a guide. If you select to attend a meet and then cannot make it, please be courteous to others in the group and change your RSVP status as soon as possible to allow others who might be on the waiting list the chance to participate.

The Après-Meet
Please feel comfortable in posting your photographs and advising others; critical appraisal is helpful. What will also be appreciated are ratings and, especially, comments to individual meets and the group dynamic as a whole. This is important because it will ultimately add value to our meetings and improve our experience.


Update #1: Exercises
L'heure bleue est merveilleux parce que...I mean, because of the hypnotic and calming shades of blue. Here we want to work with this attractive background and diffuse light to help bring out or complement subjects.

Here are a few captures to practice and post.
1- A photograph of the skyline where the shape of the city is revealed and detailed against the gloaming.
2- A photograph of a street-scape where we get closer and wonder at people's lives when about the street or in their lit-up hives, or we find a captivatingly illuminated architectural set. Here the ever-present bluing plays a smaller role.
3- A photograph of light patterns or light trails where the light-play brings intrigue or movement to a scene.
4- A portrait where the color of the sky or the city lights create a cool backdrop.

In every case, use the color and quality of the light to your advantage; things look awesome under twilight.

 

Update #2: Tips for beginners
Like the "golden hour", "blue hour" occurs twice a day, before sunrise and after sunset. After sunset the color of the atmosphere changes quickly from warm hues to cold hues, turning into twilight. During twilight time the duration of blueing also varies with the seasons. The diffuse blue backdrop brings out building details. The amber hues of the city hives (I mean the light through apartment windows or offices) complement this backdrop. The blinking or streaking whites and reds of nightlife add interesting highlights. Weather is less of a factor for this photography. If the sky is clear, cloudy or overcast, it will appear blue with more or less intensity.

Be very attentive because the light is changing color and darkening quickly. Taking the time to find a scene you wish to photograph prior to shooting is important. Let's remember that it isn't the most images you take that matters, but that one that will be memorable even years later.

Verify the conditions with your light meter and change your exposure settings according to your composition. As with our outing during the "golden hour", if you want to keep the ISO relatively low to avoid "noise" or have the aperture relatively small (large f/ number) for greater depth-of-field, then a tripod is essential to steady the camera to avoid shake from  the longer shutter-speeds typically needed for exposures during this condition of low light. With digital cameras, longer shutter speeds allow the camera to pick up more color.

On the other hand, if you want very shallow depth-of-field for images, where the a subject is put into emphasis or trying to make bokeh (pleasing blur) with the spot or blinking lights, then shutter speed will shorten. Here you can possibly hand-hold your camera. Of course, the shake in your composition can produce interesting results.

If you do not have a tripod with you, steady the camera on a lamp-post, bench, car, stand against a wall or tuck in your arms and breathe out slowly before you take the shot. Compensate by opening up the aperture and increasing the ISO to a setting that does not include unpleasant color noise. When this occurs, make B&W images; the grain might be appropriate for the subject matter. B&W photographs during these colorful times can still be interesting because of shapes, gradations or texture. Well done, you can still feel that glow.

Slowing down the shutter speed even more, to times such as 1 or half a second to capture some streaks of light or motion, you might have to decrease your ISO or decrease your aperture. Of course, in this case you need the camera to be steady. For even longer shutter speeds, for those long light trails, a cable release or remote shutter will help minimize shake even more from handling the shutter release.

Verify the white balance setting so as not to create an unwanted color-cast on the image. In the case of blue hour photography, make sure it does not offset the blue cast of the sky or make the scene sickly yellow from the street- lights. Take a test shot to verify and set the color-cast, or turn white balance off.

We'll bring up these tips at the beginning of the Meetup. See y'all there, and good luck.

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  • Dionysios

    I like what I see in the photo album. There are divers, interesting and rich images. Let's keep on going! Let's keep on with the questions and answers!

    July 14, 2013

  • Candy

    What a night! Amazing pictures you guys took, so impressive! Wish I could do the same! So ashamed to post mine! Thanks Dionysios for your help! Great fun learning from you!

    July 13, 2013

    • Paul D.

      Candy, there are a couple of good ways to learn from these group things:

      July 14, 2013

    • Candy

      Thanks so much Paul & K Fung for your support & encouragement. Greatly appreciated. I can't stop looking at & admiring all of the photos. I will post some of mine and try to ask more questions! The best group I've ever had, love you all! Thanks million!

      July 14, 2013

  • Paul D.

    Candy: (I messed up the posts) One is to look at what others did and think about that next time. And ask questions if you aren't sure how they got the shot. The other is to post what you got and ask for suggestions for improvement. Gods! I am still learning and learning and after 4 years I know a smaller percentage of everything every month. (yea, I mean "smaller" -- I keep finding out that there is even more that I don't know).

    July 14, 2013

  • Greg L.

    Yes, very nice evening. Thanks for organizing it Dionysios.

    July 14, 2013

  • K F.

    Great meetup. Conditions were perfect for blue hour photography!

    July 13, 2013

  • Victor

    Thanks, Dionysios for organizing and hosting this event. Gastown is always an excellent location to shoot!

    July 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great!

    July 13, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Wow, it was so much fun to-night. Thank you all for coming out to lay and making it fun. It was a cool spot for a cool time of day. Show us the shots you like and even the ones you don't; ask questions about them; let's get a discussion going; and we'll try to help each-other out.

    I think we'll do this again soon.

    À la prochaine!

    July 13, 2013

  • Sally W.

    Ended up at the Sun Yat-Sen garden for their outdoor concert series (every Friday - check it out!). Looks like you all had lovely light!

    July 12, 2013

  • kelly

    Sorry, stuck out in Richmond, won't make it...enjoy!

    July 12, 2013

  • Lauren P.

    Sorry it's last minute but I don't think I can make it tonight. Have fun and I look forward to seeing the pics!

    July 12, 2013

  • Dionysios

    See y'all real soon! PS: I don't have data on my phone so I won't be checking the post for updates.

    July 12, 2013

  • Peter H.

    Coming down with a cold. Look forward to the pictures! Have fun.

    July 11, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Well, I sure do wish someone'll come out fer a drink.

    July 10, 2013

    • Candy

      Yeah I bet you have tons of fans, vraiment gâté

      July 11, 2013

    • Candy

      Vous ne trouvez pas? lol

      July 11, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Can someone please give advice on parking?

    July 7, 2013

    • Candy

      Thanks guys for the tips on parking! I think I'll drive, live too far!

      July 10, 2013

    • Candy

      Dionysios, but sorry I won't be able to catch up for a drink etc. afterwards. I have a photowalk to attend for the whole day on Sat. You guys have fun on Sunset beach then! Looking forward to seeing you all on Fri @ Gastown! Thanks!

      July 10, 2013

  • Berge S.

    Not sure if I'll be back from Kelowna in time for this so I'm going to open a spot up and allow someone waiting to attend

    July 9, 2013

  • Candy

    Does anyone know where to park? Any free parking pls? Thanks!

    July 3, 2013

  • Carissa

    I think I will host a golden hour @Coal Harbour soooooooooon :-)

    2 · July 1, 2013

    • Rob

      That would be nice...

      July 1, 2013

  • Victor

    bring 2 friends

    July 1, 2013

  • Peter H.

    Broadway Cameras has generic remote triggers on sale for $10. Used one at False Creek and it worked great.

    July 1, 2013

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