The Power of Blue Hour Photography

The Power of Blue Hour Photography

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Some time ago I wrote an article on how to shoot during the golden hour, this is usually the best time of the day to shoot sunsets with the best and most powerfull conditions for photography. However golden hour does not always provide stunning results, it may happen that the weather is not good, or with a flat sky. In all these cases blue hour is a very good alternative

But blue hour is more than that, it depends on what are you looking for but in most cases can be to prefer to golden hour. So we see in this article the power of blue hour photography and when exploit it

1. Enhance Mood

The aspect that I prefer about blue hour is the mood of the images, the blue hour manages to give a unique atmospheres that no other time of day can give. In all these cases especially with the help of dramatic clouds it is a unique way to deepening the mood of images

2. Long Exposure

With coming dusk the exposure time lengthen, taking advantage of this conditions is the key point of blue hour, long exposure can completely transform the scene. For example in landscapes to benefit from the movements of clouds or water, in cityscapes with light trails

3. Combine Blue Hour with Golden Hour

Another aspect I love about blue hour is the chance to mix it with golden hour. In every sunset there is always a moment where the golden hour gives way to blue hour. The mood contains the power of blue hour and the warm as golden colours on the horizon

4. Light Trails

Light trails are one of the strongest composition of long exposure photography, especially the cityscape are particularly suitable for this kind of photos. Usually light trails are made during the blue hour, for this reasons it gives the chance of mixing the colors of blue hour and the yellows of city lights, two complementary and attractive colors for the viewer

5. Reflections

Blue hour is a great chance to capture reflections on the water, no matter if in the city or shooting landscape, the result is sure. During blue hour, reflections are amazing and taking advantage of this time of the day is the right time to deal with it

6. Look for Unique Light

Sometimes when the light is falling down a beautiful light can emerge, it’s a totally random and unexpected look that often occurs on very cloudy days but can completely transform your shots. This is the case of my photo taken in Amalfi when a coming storm contrasted with the last colors of the sunset creates a stunning and a unique light

7. Digital Blend

I’ve spoken about the chance to combine golden hour with blue hour while shooting, but we can do this also using Photoshop. In the image you see I have digital blended two different images with different lights, the warm colors of the golden hour and the cold one that characterizes blue hour, in a time that runs between about 30 minutes

8. Emphatize Blue Colours

It can be useful to increase the blue tones of the blue hour in our images, this to make images that are not in enough blue mood in order to increase the dark/blue atmosphere of our photo

We can proceed with the increase of the blue through the use of camera raw blue tones slider or through the use of Photoshop filters. Using TTS Pro Panel there are functions to increase the blue hour such as the golden hour through the application of selective filters that take advantage of luminosity masks


Crossroads

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As the first photo of 2021 I post a photo that I found from some of my old shots of the Dolomites, unfortunately in a period where is not easy to travel, my photographic resources are decreasing 🙂 but I always try to ensure new elements on all my social networks every week

This is small alpine lake, is one of my favorite mountain spots, if not one of the most photographed by me in the latests years, as in winter the surface of the lake freezes but without snow, a feature that I often look for in lakes in winter but it’s not easy to find anywhere. This is because the whole valley is crossed by icy currents but the altitude is not very high

About the shot I captured two series of exposures in focus stacking in order to have an image totally in focus, every series of exposure was done in bracketing mode, so I had the chance to digital blend every series before proceed with focus stacking

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I digital blended every exposure series before proceed to focus stack the shot to achieve a perfectly focused image. The next step was to add details and enhnace colours using TTS Pro dedicated effects

I fixed the highlights and shadows using  luminosity masks, I applied the same luminosity masks on curves to have a precise adjustment layer to enhance contrasts. I correct color cast on the sky and on the mountain, I pushed up some shadows on the forest and I slightly decreased the whole image luminosity

With hue/saturation tool I fixed more the colours and I created a small vignette using color efex pro filter

As always I hope you will find this usefull. I love to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 15mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Let it Snow

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I found this photo from the photo album of my last trip to the Dolomites, almost a year ago now … an incredible snowy landscape and a magnificent backdrop of the Friulian Dolomites

I remember spending most of the day in this location from late morning until almost evening since the sky offered the most disparate facets that day, starting from an overcast sky up to openings full of wonderful light like this one

I made this shot with a focus stacking on only two points, foreground and background, capturing a series of exposures for each type of photo to capture as much dynamic range as possible

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I started with a digital blending between the two series of shots, than I merged the images into Photoshop in order to obtain one image with all focused points

I made the major adjustments using  luminosity masks on highlights, shadows and contrasts. I applied high details filters using TTS Pro, I also launched orton effect and glow tool in order to increase the glowing atmosphere of the image

I fixed color cast and I pushed up the warmth of the whole image increasing vibrance and yellow tones. With dodge and burn I lightened some areas around the trees and on the mountains

I darkened a bit the whole frame and I created some lighting spot on the main areas of interest using brush, as final step I a fixed the lasts lights using levels to better balance the image

I really hope you will find this usefull. I’m always happy to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 15mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Side Walk

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Waterfalls and autumn are two elements that always get along very well. During the autumn season I always try to find some beautiful glimpses with waterfalls inside woods and small forests, the water as I wrote in my tutorial dedicated to autumn how to photograph the beauty of autumn colours ,is a very strong element for autumn shots

I took this photo without the help of any filter since the water flow was very strong and I didn’t want to risk an excessive loss of water texture

I used focus stacking in this photo by focus on the foreground and then on the rest of the scene, since the focus point was the same

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I create the shot to edit blending the shots needed for focus stacking. Also with this image for every focus point I take two exposures, darker and brighter in order to digital blend the shots before proceed with focus stacking

I increased the highlights coming from the aperture on the trees to increase the sense of glow in this picture and I pushed up orton effect and glow effect for this

I increased details selectively on the rocks and on the trees, with luminosity masks I fixed contrast and lights over the scene, I added glow in the scene also using the glow tool

As final steps I increased the color vibrance and pushed up the autumn colours

All the edits are done with my TTS Pro panel, I hope you will find this usefull. I always love to ear that from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 64 at f/11

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Touch

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Not so far from the city of Rome some forests still looks green, it will take some other week to turn to the beautiful autumn orange. Meanwhile, here is another image of a waterfall captured directly from its shore, the series of waterfalls in this area creates a deep pool of water on multiple levels

Since I was in a wooded area quite closed from light, I went here during the day with full daylight, to benefit from a brighter light to sufficiently illuminate the scene. From the right suddenly a strong light filtered towards the water and the leaves that were in front of me and that I used as the main subject of the foreground, as a touch of light in a darker scene

I capture this photo through focus stacking and perspective blending techniques, so I capture different focus on the scene and I blended togheder to obtain a perfectly focused frame, I already corrected the perspective with the waterfall using another waterfall picture with an undistorted perspective

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I captured 4 different focus point in the scene + another picture for the correct perspective of the waterfall + another one for saving the moving foliages

For every focus point I got two exposures darker and brighter that I used for digital blending. Once I composed the base working image, I started editing the image using TTS Pro. With luminosity masks I fixed the highlights and shadows in the frame and with dodge and burn I decreased all the strong lights in the frame

I used orton effect here, perfect for this kind of scenes and with the use of glow tool  I created some glowing lights in the picture. I increased the color vibrance, increased details and sharpness on the rocks and on the leafs

As final step I launched a soft vignette to favor the impression of a mysterious image to the viewer

As always I hope you will find this usefull! I love to ear that from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 64 at f/14

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Path of Defense

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I have been to this location several times in the past, there is a post from 2017 that you can find at this link

The suggestive truglia tower is a bastion of roman origin used mostly used for military sightings. Destroyed several times over the years it has been rebuilt and today it is a pleasant panoramic point of the city of Sperlonga

Before being able to take this photo I waited a few days for an interesting sky and passed in search of a different composition from the ones I had already done in the past

I decided to compose the photo in this way in order to have in the same composition a good foreground element but at the same time of the leading lines that lead towards the main subject of the tower

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I captured 3 bracketed shot for this image that I digital blended using TTS Pro using the auto blend function. I increased details and the warm tones of the sun applying a warm filter to luminosity masks

I used the glow tool to lighten some part of the image and to create a glow effect, after increasing a bit the contrast I increased the color vibrance of the entire image decreasing the effect on the cactus

Lastly I applied the skylight filter of color efex pro limitedly to the sky to incrase the sunset color and as final step a soft vignette to better expose the central tower

As always I hope you will find this usefull! I love to ear that from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 19mm)

Three Shots (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 100 at f/11

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro, Color Efex Pro


Coastal Beauty

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I shot for three consecutive days in this location in search of the best clouds and the most interesting colors, at the end I preferred for this image in focus stacking with this rock in the foreground using two different focuses between foreground and the mountain. I used a nd filter with -6 stops to make this, I love the submerged part of the rock blurred by the long exposure of the water

This area is one of my favorite locations to photograph the sea. I’m talking about Cilento area in the south of Italy. I love the rocky beaches with the mountain in the background typical of this area. The sunsets here are always very special and full of beautiful colors, every year I try to spend a few days here taking these colorful seascapes

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I captured this with 5 brackedet shots that I merged using TTS Pro with digital blending creating 2 different shots that I blended with focus stacking. With luminosity masks I fixed the highlights in the sky and I lightened the darker parts of the rocks

After increasing the color vibrances, I used dodge and burn to fix some darker areas around the rocks and darkened the general luminosity of the picture using a vignette

I increased the contrast applying luminosity masks to curves adjustment layer, after a general layer fixes a gived a soft orton effect to create a soft glow effect

I hope you will find this usefull! I love to ear that from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Five Expoures (-2; -1; 0; +1; +2)

ISO: 100 at f/16

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Photography Bundle

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If you need more informations about the single products you can see the sinigle pages dedicated to TTS Pro and to Luminosity Masks Digital Course anyway you can find both products below


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A New Day

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Finally I have again the opportunity to freely go out to photograph and on the first day I decided to go to the most famous spot of my city. It was great to take advantage of the total absence of tourists and people in the area but despite everything to avoid any possible presence of people, I went there for the sunrise

The splendid sunrays of sun that at this time of year are behind the Coliseum were unfortunately covered by clouds but anyway with all the sunrise colours on the sky

Talking about composition I preferred a vertical shot with composition, they are among my favorites, to emphasize the coliseum in the background and a leading compositional line towards the monument


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I made the image with the focus stacking technique by shooting the bracketed image for each series of captured images. If you want to know more about this technique that I always use when taking photos like this, I recommend reading this guide

With the resulting expoures I digital blended the images using TTS Pro. With the help of luminosity masks I fixed highlights, shadows and contrasts. After adding details selectively I increased the color vibrance exalting magentas and blue colours

I added orton effect and with the use of dodge and burn I lightened the blacks around the Coliseum. With the glow tool I lightened some highlights in the sky and created soft light bleeding near the sun position. As final step I added a vignette to darken the foreground and to give more prominence to the central scene

As always I hope you will find this usefull! I like to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Single Shot

ISO: 100 at f/9

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


The Autumn Leaves

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This week I take a break from the tutorials to return to publish some new photos and today I propose an old photo taken in Japan in 2018. I had discarded this photo at the time because I did not like that framing of leaves so blurred for which I didn’t have to chance to capture the shot using focus stacking for logistical problems…

In fact, to capture this temple with this view I had to climb through a very high bush for which not even the easel could reach, I took it freehand and on tiptoe. All this set of non-technical details, made me think that something wrong in this shot but that I reevaluated it today, also looking at the many images that run on web with very prominent framing like this

The blurring of the leaves on the left gives an idea of ​​the context in which this splendid temple is located in Kyoto, a beautiful garden that I could safely admire and turn at the opening of the temple gates to avoid finding tourists in the area


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I take this shot as single exposure so no digital blend was done for this, I started fixing highlights, shadows and contrast using luminosity masks.

I removed some chromatic aberrations around the corner of the leaves and I fixed colors first removing any color cast than increasing the purple tones and increasing vibrance

I added some more details selectively, than I added a soft orton effect. As final step I added a small vignette increasing the light in the center to make the image more pop

I hope you will find this usefull! I like to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Sigma 24-70 f/2,8 (used at 70mm)

Single Shot

ISO: 200 at f/7,1

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


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Hi, my name is Giuseppe Sapori, a professional photographer and author of this website, created by yours truly to show my work and share with you the techniques I use. My expertise is in the field of Landscape Photography... (Read More)

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