Golden Hour / Blue Hour

Getting out and shooting mediocre photos is much more fun that staying home in my opinion. So with that thought in my head, I went hiking yesterday. Climbing the rocky trails with a full backpack of camera, lenses, tripod, water bottle, etc. is good exercise even if I don’t shoot a photo. It was a really nice cool Saturday afternoon and the refuge had more people than I had ever seen, but I was still mostly alone.

I enjoy the long golden grasses out there this time of year as it can really pick up the sunlight. There were also thousands of strands of what looked like spider webs in the grass blowing in the breeze to catch the light as well. I guess there was a recent hatching. The tough thing about shooting this glowing grass is that it generally involves shooting into the afternoon sun, which can tend to wash out a photo.

Below is my best effort, looking down the hiking trail with the sun peaking through the trees. Shot with a really tight aperture (f/20) to produce a flaring sun.

Hiking Trail at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

As the sun approached the horizon, it really lit up the grass and I struggled to find a good way to shoot it. I settled on an old weathered tree branch among the sea of long grass and stones atop the ridge. Not the most exciting photo, but I love the long grass at golden hour. if there had been a wind, I would probably have tried some long exposures.

Indian Grass at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

I had earlier picked out a tree to shoot as a silhouette after the sun had gone down. The previous evening had been crystal clear with nice orange to blue gradient across the sky and I thought I might get that again. But this evening was a bit more hazy and I had a few distant clouds to catch a little color.

Blue Hour at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

I blackened out all but the sky in editing this as I only wanted the silhouette. I have had a desire to get nice silhouettes recently and am not just showing off that I know how to spell silhouette. I really like a bare tree in the winter against a blue hour sky. The silhouette allows you just see the shape of the random network of branches and I find it pleasing. Many of the trees around here keep leaves all year round so it is not as easy as it would seem to find a good tree.

I tried a shot of mostly just the tree in the photo above, and I also took a wider shot of the landscape around it below. I cropped it to look more like a panorama. Not sure which I prefer so I added them both.

Blue Hour at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

In shooting I tried very hard to isolate the tree and its bare branches from the ground and surrounding trees. This involved getting low and at just the right distance and angle, but the tree is still quite close to its neighbor. Perhaps I need to find another tree.

As an aside, when I exported the last picture from Lightroom, the sky was quite banded. I try to export at a normal HD resolution to keep from using too many megabytes on WordPress but I had to up the resolution on this one to get rid of the banding. Not sure why Lightroom does this. The full resolution camera image, which is too enormous to put on a web page, has a very smooth sky.

That’s my golden hour and blue hour shots for Saturday evening. This time of year is so nice as there are almost no insects to bother you at dusk like there are in the warmer part of the year. Thanks for reading.

55 thoughts on “Golden Hour / Blue Hour

            1. Oh its good I wasn’t drinking anything when I read this. Annnd wait…. if he didn’t ask you due to your character and ethics being beyond suspicion, … why did he ask me? You may want to think carefully before you answer. LOL!


            1. …mmm…!!
              But ….. but….. I can’t be responsible for my imagination. ๐Ÿ˜„
              Hmmm … I have survived “pun festivals” before… may have needed some ice for my head, but I made it.

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, all my readers in the Congo loved these photos.

      Golden hour and blue hour are common photography terms, perhaps I should not have just thrown them out without some explanation.

      Golden hour just refers the warm quality of the sunlight as it is near the horizon (after sunrise and before sunset) and being filtered by much more atmosphere. The air attenuates the cooler tones (toward blue end of spectrum) more so than the warmer tones. So, the earth tones really pop in the warmer light.

      Blue hour is just a photographer’s way of referring to post or pre-sunset twilight. The sky has not yet gone to black and you can get a lot of cloud color from the sun beyond the horizon. I love this time of day for silhouettes against the sky. This is also a good time for city photography as the brightness of the sky close to that of the city lights and many find this more pleasing than day time or night time images.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. thank you for that explanation. I’m gaining more and more of an appreciation for photography thanks to your site and a couple of others. I just take a picture with my iPhone, with no planning involved.

        I can see why the people from the Congo are so attracted to your blog…


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