Cobham Road – Twilight

Everyone knows that sunsets are beautiful. What a lot of people don’t realise is that a short time after sunset, the sky turns a deep saturated blue which looks beautiful when you shoot it with a camera. Our eyes usually don’t pick it up just how saturated a blue it is, but cameras can because we can tell them to leave the shutter open a little longer to pick up more light. Here’s a shot of a a colourful block sculpture shot during this time.

Twilight, also known as “blue hour” to photo enthusiasts, lasts for around 30 minutes and the sky changes a lot during this time. I took a number of photos during this session over about 15 minutes, and the one above had the right balance between the foreground blocks and the background sky. 5 minutes earlier the sky was a bit too light for my liking, and 5 minutes later it was bit too dark.

During blue hour you need a camera that either has a fast lens, a sensor capable of high ISO or a tripod. I’ve shot this with a Nikon D3100 with the stock 18-55mm lens which in itself isn’t fast, but the camera can comfortable shot ISO-3200 so I can do this handheld. Yay for modern sensors 🙂 Also anything in the foreground needs to be bright, it either needs to be lit up by artificial lights like the blocks were, or you need to use a flash. Otherwise you’ll be shooting silhouettes (which is also fine if that’s what you’re after). I used +0.7 exposure compensation to let more light in, highlights got majorly blown, but I didn’t care I was shooting colours, not details.

Once blue hour was over, I moved over the marina which was close by and busted out my tripod. The water was almost perfectly still which meant I was able to get a great reflection in the water and have the boats sit (mostly) still. I took a few shots at different ISO speeds because I wasn’t sure how long I could leave the shutter open for with the slight amount of bobbing up-and-down the boats were doing. I ended up liking the ISO-400 (6 seconds) shot the best, the ISO-100 (25 seconds) was too blurry.