Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens we’re downtown here in Los Angeles. I’ve got Bobbi here with me. She’s going to help us look at shooting at my absolute favorite time of the day. Golden hour is amazing and I love it, but the time of day I love the most is when I shoot into blue hour. What is blue hour? It’s actually not an hour at all. It’s about the 15 or 20 minutes after the sun has gone down when the blue sky reflects great blue light into the scene. And the lights of the city start to come on and get really close to the same exposure as the sky and gives you beautiful images. It’s an excellent time to shoot, whether you’re doing landscapes or if you’re doing cityscapes or models with a strobe.
But first off, a special shout out for our sponsor Tamron with this 28-75mm. That’s a great 2.8 G2 lens. This is an excellent lens for this application because I want to shoot and move and change and I can get in for a tighter shot, a little more of a portrait. I can get a wider shot to see the cityscape. It just gives me a lot of options. Well let’s get shooting and see exactly what we got with that 28-75 G2. Let’s take a look at blue hour. One of the reasons I love this lens, it’s a 28-75 and is exactly what I just did. I can get in this tight on her face and I can also go back to a very wide shot and see the buildings in my shot here. So it’s a great workaround, run around lens for me when I’m shooting this blue hour time. I only get 15 minutes. I got 15 minutes to shoot everything I’m going to shoot. So I’ve got to be able to change the lens and run around and just really change the perspective. When you zoom it simply changes the crop. But when you move and zoom, if I move in closer and zoom now it changes the perspective. So if I walk away and zoom out it changes the relationship of her to the background completely. The buildings get smaller as I zoom out and get further away. As I zoom in and step back those buildings come forward and the bokeh starts to build and it looks fabulous. The 28-75 gives me that ability to change all and have all those different looks with one different lens. Well I love the fact that it goes to 75 because it just gives me the ability to get almost into that 80, that kind of portrait lens which I really love. But still gives me a nice wide shot so there’s the 28-75 G2.
So what is blue hour, more accurately called civil twilight? It’s a time when you’re transitioning from the sun into complete darkness. So you get a really blue cast to the sky overhead and it’s a gorgeous blue cast. The sky looks blue in your images. It’s just a great time to shoot because the exposure of the sky is dropping. It’s becoming less and less. There’s a point where it crosses and matches the exact same exposure as the city lights. Take a look at the chart. Look at the sky as the exposure is dropping. Look at the flat line of the city lights and you can see where that sky matches the flat line of the city lights and the exposure is exactly the same. That chart shows you when blue hour or civil twilight happens. I think it’s a gorgeous time to shoot because it just looks so inviting. Beautiful blue light with that warm light and everything just looks so absolutely magical when you shoot during this time. I get a better time, blue hour time, out of the evening sunset than I do in the morning. In the morning it happens so quick. It’s pretty hard. Although, it can be pretty amazing in the morning and I’ve shot a lot in the morning. But blue hour, I think, is the time that most of us equate with sunset. It’s just after the sunset. Sometimes there’s a little bit of warmth left in the sky. But it’s a time when it just looks really wonderful because you’re matching the city lights to the sky. And then that sky drops into darkness and the city buildings just disappear in the blackness and it’s no longer a really workable time to shoot. So that blue hour, we’re going to shoot that today and talk about how we make that happen.
One of the reasons I love this time is because I love to introduce strobes into this equation. Introducing strobes gives me the ability to control the light on my model and to be able to match that to the blue hour. I can make it warm. I can make it cool. I can do a lot of different things with it. But it just looks absolutely fabulous. So I want to use strobes during the blue hour to really give an interesting light on the model because it gets too dark. The people just go into shadows. It’s hard to really get a good look at the person unless there’s some kind of ancillary light here. Sometimes a streetlight will do it. But we’re going to use strobes so we have complete control of the light as we shoot into blue hour. So I set up two strobe lights. I’ve got an FJ200 in the front. I’ve got a small beauty dish on it. That beauty dish I’m going to use as my key light. I’ve got it so I just want to bring it up just enough to give us a highlight on her face. In the back I’ve got a rim light. It’s an FJ200. But I’ve got a full orange on it. And the reason I want a full orange on it is because a lot of this is going to have color in it. And I want to blend her into that background. So I want her to feel like that background is lighting her and give her some context there. So that orange is going to help us a lot. So there it is with that orange. Now we’re starting to see some bokeh. It’s starting to happen.
So let’s talk about our camera settings. I’m going to set my ISO at 100. I’m going to set my aperture about f/4 or maybe f/5.6 depending on how bright I think the lights are down here. Then I’m just going to be patient. I’m going to start dragging my shutter or shortening my shutter to where I like what I’ve seen in the background. And as it gets darker and darker I’ll start lengthening that shutter. Eventually I’ve got to get on a tripod because it’ll just be way too long even with the strobes. I’m going to get down to a quarter of a second, a half a second and it just gets longer and longer.
For white balance I’m going to set the white balance on daylight because I’m shooting strobes. But if I’m not shooting strobes then I’m going to definitely shoot it on auto white balance. I just let it follow. But I’m shooting raw images because I want to be able to get in later and change the color. But I actually love the look of auto white balance as that sun sets and falls into that blue light. It looks fabulous. As it gets darker I may go to f/2.8 which really cuts my shutter time down because I’ve opened up a full stop. I can now cut my shutter down a full stop and make it shorter and that’s going to help me as it gets longer and longer. I’ll shoot a lot of times way into this long exposure, a second, two seconds sometimes. It looks pretty amazing. It’s hard for your model to stand still and that starts to not work because it starts to give what’s called a little black outline in the background. But it’s a great look, a great time to shoot. So there’s the camera settings. So I’m at 100 ISO. I’ve set myself at f/3.5 and an 80th of a second. As the sun goes down I’m going to have to lengthen that shutter a lot. So I’ll have to go to the tripod and I’ll be able to lengthen my shutter out. But I’m going to stay at that f/3.5 and I’m going to wait until that starts to match those city lights back there. And I’m going to just change my shutter until those city lights look right to me. Then I’ll wait for that blue sky to look right. And when those three come together I’ll shoot away.
So I’m trying to play with just the outside edge of the area of coverage. So I just kind of, it’s almost cutting the light off from her face. So it doesn’t look directly lit. I want it to just feel kind of subtle, the way the light’s on her face. It looks really good.
We’ve been shooting for about 30 minutes since the sun went down and it’s really been good for like about 15-20 minutes. It’s almost done here. I’m still seeing blue in the sky. But it’s starting to be pretty dark. It starts to become a grayish color and we’re starting to lose it. But it got great shots. The blue of the building back there and the warmth of the city lights it really looked fabulous. Fabulous, amazing and just a groovy sort of way. So we’ve shot through golden hour into civil twilight. Bobbi’s freezing to death. She has been a trooper but it’s now gotten too dark. It’s just now street lights, which is cool and a great way to work, but it’s not that blue hour because we’ve lost that blue glow in the sky. And it’s just gotten too dark now. So the sky is darker than the street lights and so those two have crossed and now it’s just not a great time to shoot. If you want to see the sky it’s a good time to shoot against the buildings and into the warm light of the street, so street scenes. But as far as using that sky, it’s all over.
So there’s a look at how to shoot blue hour, twilight. So leave us some comments. Tell us about your adventure shooting in twilight or blue hour and keep those cameras rollin’ keep on clickin’!