The Blue Zone

Aleš mentioned to me some time ago that Slovenia’s most famous photograher – Arne Hodalič – refers to the light around dusk as “Blue Light”.

This is when there is a perfect match between light above and light at ground level.

However, this is not what I am interested in here. I am interested in the period that I call the Blue Zone. This is about 15 minutes after the Blue Light period and there is now only a trace of light in the sky and the ground is almost dark. What I want to capture is some brilliance in the sky but man-made lights on the ground, and to work with deep shadows.

So, here are the tips:

1. get to the location at least 30 minutes before sunset and work the composition
2. fix the focus point now as later on it will be too dark for the camera to lock focus
3. put on a 3 stop ND filter (or 2 stop ND or CPL) and attach remote shutter release that can lock
4. switch to M-mode and biggest aperture (f2.8) and make sure ISO is 100
5. check metering and adjust shutter speed as required until correct reading is 13 seconds
6. you are now in the Blue Zone
7. change aperture to f11 and shutter speed to Blub
8. release shutter for 300 seconds
9. if you find that you didn’t get enough lights on the ground try again with a 2-stop ND but use 600 seconds
10. you are now out of the Blue Zone
11. wait until it is completely dark to capture the stars or go home

Easy right? No. Come on a tour of the night sky with Aleš and I, and we will take you through the steps slowly.