Friday, 24 June 2016

Blue hour progression.

On Wednesday evening I was driving back from Banbury around 10.15pm, and noticed a mist falling in the fields either side of the road. On the way down toward our village in the Cherwell valley I could see that mist had also formed in the valley bottom, so stopped in one of the parking spots and went in search of a blue hour picture.

The sun was now down, night was falling fairly fast, and although the mist wasn't as strong as I'd hoped, it helped create some good atmosphere for blue hour images. Light levels were already quite low, so I grabbed a tripod, D610 and 28-85 lens and set up manually for 30sec exposures, varying aperture and film speed, mostly shooting around f16 at ISO200. After the first couple of frames it was too dark to use autofocus, so I simply stopped down well (hence the f16) setting the lens to infinity and then back a little. This is different from the Sony, that seemed to AF in the dark, even with a 10 stop filter in place: the electronic viewfinder gaining up for a very noisy but still useable picture.

After around 25min it became so dark that I simply couldn't see anything through the viewfinder, and it was time to pack up and head home.

When processing these I have resisted the temptation to set black & white points in the usual way for a full tonal range and aiming for maximum detail, instead concentrating on balancing light and dark areas. In the later images where night had fallen I've tried to bring up enough shadow detail to provide information about what's there without making the image look like it was taken in daylight. The colour of the sky also gradually drifted further and further blue, and again I chose not to 'correct' this. Keeping the sense of night time was important for the last couple particularly, so that one could imagine actually walking down that road while I was at work.

Mill leat

Somerton Mill

No gate

Nights falls 1

Night falls 2

A healthy glow.

The orange glow in the last couple of images is from the streetlights in Deddington, a few miles away over the crest of the surronding hills.

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