To me, the “blue hour” is the most beautiful part of the day for shooting architectural features with lights, especially if they’re reflecting off the water. The blue hour is that period of twilight each day between full darkness and sunlight, when you can still see stars but there’s just a hint of light in the atmosphere. Many amateur photographers (myself included until I learned better) will take hundreds of shots of sunrises or sunsets, but never extend their shooting time into that magic hour when the sky turns a deep indigo.
Last Saturday on our photowalk in Tempe, we were fortunate enough to be at Tempe Town Lake before the blue hour started, so we had plenty of time to find our best angles for shooting. Here’s one of my favorites from the morning’s walk….the east Mill Avenue Bridge. There are two parallel bridges that carry vehicular traffic over the lake, one running inbound and one running outbound. For this shot, I was between the two bridges, facing east.
I actually took three bracketed shots here, but I chose to only process one of the images, the one that was slightly under-exposed. I used Topaz Detail to get a little more texture in the bridge, and then used Topaz DeNoise to clean up the artifacts. A little tweaking with the Curves took and a little final sharpening was all it took.
Compare this shot to the one that I took a few minutes later after I walked further east and then turned around shot both bridges. The blue hour doesn’t last long, so be prepared to capture it before it fades away!