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The Blue Hour

The long days of summer are often a problem for landscape photographers.

Waterhead, Ambleside

The blazing daytime sunlight casts strong, dark shadows and while sunrise and sunset always provide the most interesting light, can be as early as 4:02am and as late as 10:25pm in mainland UK.

That's hard to work around, but the effort can be worth it. I favour the time during and just after the 'blue hour', which (ironically) usually lasts about 20 minutes, and occurs when the sun is a few degrees below the horizon. Blue light scatters into the atmosphere and gives everything a deep blue hue, further enhanced as red light is greatly reduced.

The time this happens can be predicted, and there's a great app called PhotoPills for both Android and iOS that provides all the information you need... and then some. I'll write a more comprehensive review in the coming weeks, but in the meantime check out:

But remember, it's not all about the light, an interesting composition really helps too. The photo illustrating this journal entry is just that, and it provided some unique challenges. It was shot 11:30pm on Midsummer's Day at Waterhead, on Lake Windermere in the Lake District. The landscape is bathed in deep blue light, but the boats in the foreground were illuminated by sodium street lamps so balancing the exposure was tricky, as was reducing the motion and blurring of the boats on the lake.

The result, I think, is a unique view of an otherwise popular tourist spot, but at 11:30pm it was empty except for a handful of ducks and the bats swooping around me. These are the moments that I enjoy the most and the times when I feel far from "blue".

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