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Blue Hour, A How-To

Lesson 5 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

Blue Hour, A How-To

Lesson 5 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

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Lesson Info

5. Blue Hour, A How-To

You see a lot of outdoor photographers start packing their bags when the sun has set but they are missing out on some of the best light around. We go on location where I'll walk you through my technique for shooting blue hour.
Next Lesson: Photos That Move Us


Class Trailer



Workshop Intro






Gear - My Camera Bags


Mastering Camera Settings


Blue Hour, A How-To


Photos That Move Us


Visual Storytelling 101


Endurance In A World Of Sprinting


Keeping Your Ideas Fresh


Building Your Story Arc


Shooting More: Action Plan


Conveying Emotions


In the Field


The Assignment: Himalaya Pre-Pro


In the Field: The Himalaya Defender Shoot


The Assignment: Canon Pre-Pro


In the Field: Canon USA Shoot




Keywords & Organizing Images


Commercial Grading


Masking & Radial Filters


Perspective Correction


HDR (Hand-Held)


Black & White Edits


Before & Afters


Moody Grading


IG Export Settings


Web Export Settings


Clone Stamping & Patch Tools


Grading in Lightroom


Hand-Held Panoramas


Radial Filters Pt 2


Delivering Files to Clients


Archiving & Organizing Images


My Favorite Software




Let's Talk Business


Building A Desirable Portfolio


How to Contact Clients


Prospecting: Finding Brands That Fit You


Getting Clients To See Our Value


Paid to Travel the World


The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments


Keys To A Fulfilling Career


Three Things You Need To Know Before Pitching


Finding Your Value Proposition


Media Kit: A Walk Through


How I Built My Audience


Social Media Landscape


Module Recap


Bonus - Everything To Know About Filters


Do You Need Lens Filters?


Filters in The Field


Bonus - Find Your Path


Find Your Path


Bonus - How To Print Your Work


Why Print or Sell Photos


Preparing Photos for Print


Reviewing Major U.S Printers


Lesson Info

Blue Hour, A How-To

(enchanting music) So what time of the day do I shoot my photos? I mostly shoot at sunset and sunrise, but hands down, my favorite times of the day to shoot is at blue hour. However, if you wanna be a professional, you need to be able to shoot at all times of the day. Imagine you're hired to shoot something and, no matter how much you've prepped, you end up having to shoot in harsh light, the nemesis. And, no matter what plans you have, it will happen to your clients, generally kind of ruin the plans and make you shoot when you can't really shoot something good, so you have to know how to shoot it. And you need to know how to edit that. We'll actually talk about that on one of the field days, on how to shoot, like, at noon when it's really sunny. So back to blue hour, before we jump into the field, let me tell you what I think is an underappreciated time of day. You see a lot of outdoor photographers will start packing their bags when the sun has set. They might just go for dinner an...

d come back later. They might shoot at night, you know, because the stars are out. But, the beautiful transition between day and night doesn't register in most people's mind as an opportunity to shoot. You know, people think, oh, it's too late to shoot handheld and too early to take the tripod out. For me, it's a new day that begins, and that day is really short. It's about 20 minutes long, so you have to be prepped to shoot it. I love blue hour because you start seeing the glow of headlamps or motorcycle lights, cars or house interiors. The sky is also super interesting because most of the magenta is gone and it's followed by dark blue, and then one side of the sky, the western side usually, is super bright and the eastern side is dark, and it creates this like grabbing contrast in the sky (enchanting music) that's all too powerful. Okay, now, let's jump on location where I'll walk you through my approach (air whooshing) for shooting blue hour. So we're gonna scan to the ridge of Mount Aeneas today to do some shooting for Fjallraven. (upbeat music) I'm gonna demonstrate how I shoot blue hour through a series of tips. I believe there's four of them, or five, and they're kind of my go-to tips for blue hour. So, I'll just be sharing those along the way, and I'm also at the same time, shooting the new expedition parka for Fjallraven, and this is not sponsored, this just happens to be what we're doing. So it's real life. Let's do it, woo! There's the summit. Whew, man, we are on top of Mount Aeneas. It's taken us about one hour and a half and it's awesome. Barely any wind, bit of altitude (laughing). It's gonna be a cool sunset, kind of diffused. So, I'm gonna start shooting some photos of these guys with the jackets and then wait for blue hour. (upbeat music) It's good, not too windy. Well, yeah, get your hands out. (camera clicking) (wind blowing) So first things first, I'll say, like, the first thing I check when I get somewhere is, where's the sun gonna set, right? So it's gonna set behind me, it's gonna set west. And the reason I wanna do that is because I wanna know which side is gonna get darker and which side will be brighter. So, usually the north gets pretty dark. So I might wanna use that to do some silhouettes. And then, you know, all the south and west is gonna be brighter, so, for example, here we have the ridge we came up behind me, so I plan to shoot against the brightest part of the sun to where, after the sun has set, I'm gonna shoot towards the brightest part of the sun, and I'm gonna have these guys walk along the ridge with their headlamps on, you know, when the snow's gonna be all blue and gonna see the glow of the lights. And there's a nice leading line from the ridge. So, in this case, I'm adapting myself to the ridge, right? The ridge goes this way and I like to shoot above the ridge, usually not below because it kind of mushes it up. From here, it's more grand when you look from above, and that's where the sun is setting, too, so it's like a bonus. (upbeat music) (camera clicking) I'd say tip number two is use fast lenses. A fast lens is one that sees more light, that has a big aperture. So the same way your iris expands and contracts, a lens that's fast is a lens that has a wide aperture. So, like your big iris. So a fast lens, for example, is a 1.4, 2.8, that's fast lenses. I wouldn't shoot blue hour with, you know, F/4 lens because I would have to use a tripod. And then, you know, me and tripods don't go along well, but. For me, blue hour is kinda like run and gun, get it all, and I need to be on the move, right? To do that, to change my angles and 16-35 2.8, I can do that. And as it gets a little darker, I'll do the 24 14 on, and then just, sounds dark, right? 3200 ISO, 6400 ISO, I'll keep going up. When it comes to color temperature, I shoot blue hour, 90% of the time, on automatic white balance plus raw, right? So I can adjust my white balance in post production. You probably know that, but some people who don't know that, it's fine just shooting out of white balance in raw, 'cause you can correct it after. Light sources, it could be a big cloud that still has light from the sun, even though it has set. (camera clicking) It can be somebody's headlamp like Isaac's, (camera clicking) or it can be the glowing light of a house (camera clicking) or car headlamps. Just try to incorporate any sort of light source you want and play with that because the nature of blue hour is that everything's blue. So if you add a light source that's white, yellow, red, it's just gonna give the second color. And if you even go for complimentary colors, it's even better. But just try to incorporate, try experimenting with a headlamp, for example, like I'm doing here. Look at your feet. (camera clicking) Look over your left shoulder. (camera clicking) Oh, for me, blue hour is all about experimenting, right? It's a time where I don't have to commit to anything. So I can just try this, try that. It's where I take most risks, actually, it's just by shooting at blue hour. It's somehow my favorite fun, my favorite time to experiment 'cause like, you know the day's over, you already got your shot. So here is just like anything goes. That's why I like to keep moving between spot to spot. Told you about using fast lenses and 24s and 16s. Well, some of the rules are meant to be broken. So here, I shall demonstrate and try something new. I'm gonna use the 70-200 for this, 2.8, and a shit ton of ISO, probably. And I'm gonna get these guys from here, compression shot of them going over the ridge with the mountains in the back. Should be cool. You don't know till you try, and that's what blue hour is for. That's the idea of it, it's just experiment. JR, with your shed, no shed, it doesn't matter. It's a far away shot, but the compression shot. Okay. So when you- Want me to load up? So I don't have to come back up here or walk down there? Yeah, load it up, take everything. Okay. Yeah, yeah. So I'm shooting at 150 on a 70-200, 1/70 of a second, 1/50 of a second on a 70-200. So, this is where you wanna practice being pretty steady, right? I do it for, whoa, she's already there. Fuck, I'll continue. (camera clicking) Hey guys, can you backtrack 10 feet? Yeah, stay, just hold it. We're gonna wake up the bears. This good? Just stay there. I like shooting a lot of frames when it's super dark because some of them will be blurry, but some of them will be sharp. So, get a lot of frames. So I've been shooting at, yeah. So what I was saying earlier is, like, you wanna practice being steady just for fun. Like, we used to have a game with some buddies to see who could shoot, pretty nerdy, who could shoot the slowest shutter speed handheld. You know, we're like, all right, you try 1/8 of a second on a 50mm lens. It's a pretty nerdy game. But now that you're here, you can use it and apply for anything. So, just practice being steady. Hold your breath. Just challenge yourself at shooting at 1/10 of a second on a 24. By some sort of miracle, the 70- is still focusing in almost pitch black. Awesome, I'm happy about this. Gonna keep shooting. They're gonna keep going up. They're just little ships in the night. 4000 ISO, 4000 ISO, 5000 ISO. (camera clicking) So, I think I'm done. We're gonna just roll back down to town, have some dinner, but this was my take on my basic blue hour tips. Have fun out there. This is the best time of the day right now, I'm so stoked. ♪ I've always wanted ♪ ♪ Always wanted ♪ ♪ Feels good ♪ ♪ Here on the other side ♪ ♪ I always knew it would ♪ ♪ And I won't say I'm looking back to love ♪ ♪ I know I never should ♪ ♪ Feels good, feels good ♪

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

A Note From Alex

Ratings and Reviews


Not What I Was Expecting Let me just start by saying that the workshop was very good. There were lots of things that I learned and many insights I took away. Perhaps the greatest bit of wisdom imparted to me was not anything Alex said but how he approached every subject he talked about. I felt that he was talking to me as a friend, very personal and open book. This was both a blessing and a curse as the course tends to meander around and is not as structured as others I've taken. Alex's passion for the highest quality, and craftsmanship in every aspect of his business, is very evident. From the premiums he charges, to the attention to detail in client deliveries. This is where my review is going to give some hopefully constructive criticisms. For someone so focused on a premium experience I was a surprised to find the course a bit sloppily assembled, and the videography and editing lackluster. This is coming from a videographer and someone with a lot of experience in online training. A few short examples to illustrate my point include: repeating segments of the edit (in some instances the exact same segment), poor framing. Colors changing between cuts, and my biggest pet peeve, not leaving photo examples on for long enough to see them. These are all small things, but they add up, and along with the topics meandering, left me a bit disappointed. I'm curious who you would say this class is aimed towards. Amateurs, mid-level, or experts? The assumption of who you are addressing changes throughout the course. I feel like with a bit of work from an instructional designer, and some editing cleanup, you could help hone this course to be one of the best out there. I feel like I need to do a more in depth review than will fit here, to actually explain this well. Let me know if that would be helpful to you. One other note: When I signed up for a workshop on Adventure Photography, I honestly thought it would be more field focused. The field examples were all shoots for products, and not shoots documenting an adventure. I guess I had just hoped to learn that side of the storytelling process more. Getting into the nitty gritty of being wet, cold, and dirty, and still shooting bangers. The section on filters (going out and building the snow cave) was more what I thought this course was going to be. Anyhow, with all that said, I still found it valuable and worthwhile. To summarize, the course feels a bit unpolished and in some ways unfinished though there is still great value. I've taken Jimmy Chin's Masterclass on adventure photography and it felt very structured and highly polished. I purchased "Adventure Pro" on the "finish in a month" discount. I would have felt ripped off if I had paid full price with the course in its current state. Thanks for reading and I hope my criticisms come as helpful. As I've already mentioned I'd be happy to further elaborate.

Topher Hammond

One of the best photography investments I'm only 1/4 of the way through Alex's course and I feel like I already have a loose plan on how I can move forward in my own career as a photographer. I felt like my work was lacking a specific feeling. The way that Alex articulated ideas on how to convey emotion in your imagery and building that overarching story arc for your own life narrative were super helpful to focus on how to make my work better. Super looking forward to the rest of this course. Thanks Alex and team!

Sergi Mas de xaxars Rosell

Great Workshop I learned quite a lot with this workshop. Because I'm in the industry for 5 years now, there were a few things I already knew. On the other hand, Alex showed me different and more effective ways to improve my business. I like the way he gives the lessons, always in a personal and close way. This is the knowledge I wish I had when I started. Totally worth it!

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