An Enchanting Blue Hour Sky

In April 2009 I posted a “garden party” table setting out on the porch.   Do you remember this tablescape?  The flower pots are actually Oreo “Dirt” Cheesecake dessert.   The chargers  for this setting were large terracotta saucers, the type that go under terracotta pots.  The little elastic band on the garden gloves acted as napkin rings.  (You can view this garden party table setting and get the recipe for Oreo Dirt Cheesecake in this post:  Garden Party with Oreo Dirt Cheesecake)

For the centerpiece, I used a pretty greenhouse I found while antiquing.  It was only$18 at A Classy Flea.  I haven’t been to the Flea in ages and I miss it!  Time for a visit, I think.

Garden Party Table Setting Tablescape with Oreo Dirt Cake Dessert

For the garden party post I wanted to capture some pictures of the candles lit inside the greenhouse.  Once nighttime arrived, I lit the candles inside the greenhouse and got busy taking pics.  When I downloaded the pics later that evening, I was in for a big surprise.   The sky in the background was the most beautiful deep blue.  I had never noticed how blue it was while taking the photographs.  How could I have missed that beautiful deep-blue sky, I wondered.

Over the next few weeks, I kept watching again and again for a blue sky, hoping to take more pics with it in the background.  When it never appeared, I started Googling and discovered this amazing phenomenon called the Blue Hour.

Garden Party Table Setting Tablescape
Wikipedia defines the Blue Hour this way:
The blue hour comes from a French expression, l’heure bleue, which refers to the period of twilight each morning and evening where there is neither full daylight nor complete darkness. The time is considered special because of the quality of the light at this time of day. 

The funny thing about the blue hour, it is basically invisible to the naked eye, which is why I could never see it.  Once you know when the Blue Hour occurs in your area and you start regularly taking pics during that time, you eventually get where you can spot it (with the naked eye) when it’s happening.  Things kind of take on a slightly eerie glow, especially objects that are very white, like white siding on a house or a white deck.

Remember this photo from a few days ago?   This is my friend, Marie’s home during the daytime.

Victorian Home Decorated for Valentine's Day 1

After a day spent lunching and shopping, Marie and I returned to her home.  I took pictures of her Valentine’s decorations inside and as I was leaving, Marie turned on her outside decorations and lit her lanterns.  I snapped a photo of one of the lanterns while standing on the porch and when I glanced down at the monitor on my camera to see how it looked, I got so excited!  It was the Blue Hour!

Blue Hour Photos of Victorian Home Decorated for Valentine's Day

Here’s another pic looking out across Marie’s porch with her Valentine’s Day decorations and garland all lit up.

Blue Hour Photos of Victorian Home Decorated for Valentine's Day

And just look at that Blue Hour sky!  I have not adjusted or enhanced the color on any of these pics at all.   This is how the camera interpreted the sky that night.

Blue Hour Photos of Victorian Home Decorated for Valentine's Day

It’s so much fun to take pictures during this time of day.   The blue sky is so pretty contrasting against the turret on the house.  You can see why photographers love taking photos during the Blue Hour.

Blue Hour Photos of Victorian Home Decorated for Valentine's Day

I love how the bare, winter trees look silhouetted against a Blue Hour sky.

Tip:  When taking pics at night during the Blue Hour, it’s best to use a tripod because any movement in low lighting will cause the photo to be blurry.  I didn’t have a tripod the evening I took these, but I had my camera on a setting where it took the pictures in rapid succession.  Fortunately, I was able to capture some that were fairly in focus for this post.

Blue Hour Photos of Victorian Home Decorated for Valentine's Day

Marie’s home was so beautiful all lit up at night with her Valentine’s Day decorations.  Her gas lanterns to the right of her front door have an oak-leaf flame.  You can just make out the shape if you look closely.

Blue Hour Photos of Victorian Home Decorated for Valentine's Day

If you’re interested in learning more about the Blue Hour, check out this post:  The Secret of the Blue Hour  In that previous post, I give the address for a site where you can look to see what time of day the Blue Hour occurs each morning and evening where you live.  This is a great time of the year to take pics outdoors in the evening because the bare trees look amazing against the Blue Hour sky.  Plus, the sky is just so crisp and clear on these cold winter nights.

*For additional “Blue Hour” pictures, click on the category heading DIY, then Photography, then Blue Hour Photography, at the top of BNOTP.

Have you caught the Blue Hour in any of your photos lately?

Garden Party Tablescape and the recipe for Oreo Dirt Cheesecake available here:  Garden Party Table Setting




Comments

  1. Oh I love it. Thanks for sharing this tip. Your photos look lovely!

  2. I will have to see if I can capture the blue hour. I hadn’t thought about it so thanks for the reminder. And, thanks for more pics of Marie’s! XO, Pinky

  3. It’s so odd that you just posted this today Susan, I was just reading (like right before I visited your blog) tips on photographing interiors…I read one article where the photographer discussed the “magic hour”, the minute I read that I thought of you and your blue hour posts, I think he just refers to it by a different name. It wasn’t until you pointed it out did I begin to notice it outside my own home, now I find myself looking for it.

    He also said this in the article, “These magic hour shots for residential shots are literally as powerful as sex drive. Primitive man sought shelter for the evening as the sun went down and the light of the fires came up. Photographing a home at magic hour draws on a million years of primal need and psychology. Show a home at magic hour and people want to live there. Show it in the day and you lose that power. The colors are also prettiest at that time of day, presuming the home is lit from the outside.”

    I can totally understand that statement…a house looks it’s most beautiful during the blue hour, it looks homey and inviting and entices you to walk in the door.

    Have a great weekend!

    • Audrey, I can so see that. There truly is something so magical about the photos you capture during that time of day. Smart move on the real estate photographers…capturing the home during the blue hour. Thanks for sharing that quote…loved it!

  4. Thank you for the beautiful “eye candy!” I swear this is my place on the net where my voyeuristic happy heart can feast to its heart’s content. We get the “blue hour” up here (Rochester, NY) and I never quite understood why it happened. Thanks again for the post.

  5. I love this tablesscape. In fact this tablescape is what got me to reading blogs, yours being my first and my favorite. We used the dirt cheesecake dessert at my daughter’s baby shower! It was delicious and a big hit. And I still think this is one of the most beautiful tablescapes ever!

  6. I remember your earlier post about the Blue Hour. So great you were able to capture it again. Your photographs are beautiful of this white porch in contrast to the sky! I’ve seen this one time here and by the time I got my camera and tried to catch a few shots…well, it didn’t come out very well. Seemed to fade really fast. Hopefully I’ll catch it again sometime!
    Hope you are having a great weekend!
    Cindy

    • Thanks, Cindy! The blue hour is a little elusive. It only lasts about 45 minutes, if I’m remembering correctly. It happens in the morning and in the evening, but I’ve only photographed it in the evening. I’m not much of an early bird. lol

  7. Your friend has a beautiful home, as do you! Thanks so much for the info on the blue hour. I am going to try and capture some pics too.

    • Thanks, Brandi! Just check the blue hour site to get the times in your area. You’ll be amazed when you take pictures and as it gets a bit further into the blue hour time frame, the sky appears deep and deeper blue, until it finally goes black.

  8. Love the creative table setting. Love the blue hour. Thanks for letting us in on the secret.

  9. The blue hour makes for magical photos. Fun to see these. You’ve captured such vivid color.

  10. Barbara (WA) says:

    I have never heard of the Blue Hour – fascinating and beautiful!

  11. I love the photos and the house is spectacular! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Hi Susan,

    I just found this blog and am so happy I did! I think you may be my long lost sister, lol.

    Regarding the Blue Hour, I’ve never heard it called that but it has always been my favorite time of day. I grew up calling it, ‘The Children’s Hour’ as coined by Longfellow. It’s the magical time “twixt night and day.” Your pictures capture it beautifully.

    I’m looking forward to many happy hours leisurely browsing your blog and napping on the porch. Thanks for creating such a lovely place for kindred souls to gather.

    • Pam, Welcome! So glad you are here! You are in wonderful company…the dearest souls gather here!
      Oh, I like that…The Children’s Hour. I’ll have to look that up and read why he called it that. :)

  13. The Blue Hour’s color is so pretty it makes the pictures come alive and even seems like it is almost in 3-D! Gorgeous home, gorgeous sky, gorgeous pictures! I have really loved this series! Thanks for sharing!

  14. What a glorious sight! Quite a background for the decorations!

    Karen

  15. Susan, I would not have known about the blue hour if you had not posted about it! I have captured it twice, quite by accident! Your photos of Marie’s home are stunning and inspire me to go outside this afternoon to try to capture it again.

  16. Dear Susan,
    I am always enthralled by your beautiful posts – images, recipes, notions…..everything! Thank you for so many good reads and much wonderful inspiration. This post made me think of the director Terrence Malick (Days of Heaven). He eschewed blue skies in his work and had a preference for shooting during a period of time he called the “magic hour”. The time between when the sun set and the fall of night….a period of about 20 minutes. While I have appreciated the beauty and drama of the “blue hour” I have never really investigated it. Thank you for this thought provoking post…….I look forward to reading about l’heure bleue. I’m guessing though that like Malick’s “magic hour” “l’heure” is another optimistic euphemism. :)
    Best, Linda

  17. “That” particular post and tablescape was one of my ALL TIME favorites…absolutely beautiful! franki

  18. Marsha Cowan says:

    Susan, you are amazing!! Love this post. Thanks for the site to find out about the blue hour in my area!

  19. Susan, I first heard about the blue hour on your blog. That gorgeous blue is amazing. I’ll have to try to catch that time of day- I need all the help I can get with my photography! :)

  20. That is so beautiful Susan, I am going to check that link to find out when the blue hour happens here.

  21. i SO remember that post! i couldn’t wait to try it myself…and it’s just the coolest thing to realize that the it isn’t actually get “darker” outside…it’s getting “bluer” outside!!! ;}

    m ^..^

  22. Gorgeous Blue Hour photos, Susan. I had to take a double-take look. This house’s porch looks a lot like a Bed and Breakfast I stayed in Toccoa Falls – this house’s porch is just as lovely. I hope you have a blessed week.
    Kathy

  23. Thanks for reminding me of this magical hour! Guess what? I went outside tonight with only a faint hope of capturing this. I did take my camera. I’m dancing to the moon and back. It was there! So beautiful! I want to post it on my blog?
    I would tell everyone “who” told me about the Blue Hour. ???

  24. Oh so beautiful. I’m sharing on Pinterest so other photography friends can see this post.

  25. Helen Holshouser says:

    Hi Susan, this is great! I can hardly wait to see if I can get some pics during the blue hour! I’ve noticed the “white shimmer” before, but I guess I just never looked at the sky during that time! or took a pic! And Audrey, i also love the quote, and will try to notice if I feel that way…probably will! Love it!
    Once when I was young, about 40 years ago, I actually served a dessert in little flower pots like this! I don’t remember what gave me the inspiration, but know it was for a meal I was hosting in Richmond, Va. for my Mom and some of her sisters who are all deceased now! I love to garden, so the little greenhouse, the large flower pot saucers, the cabbage plate…the gloves! I just love it all, and am already thinking garden party this spring for my red hatters…red and purple gloves all around…and poppie or iris plates! Love it! Thanks again for the inspiration! Helen

  26. Your pictures are beautiful. Thanks for the great information. The backround is amazing and mysterious.
    I am looking forward to capturing this as well.

  27. pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

    Susan, I was just wondering when I had found your blog. I was thinking it was a few months ago, in the Spring. I didn’t know if there was a way to search my old comments, so I just tried to remember what I may have commented on in those early days. Then I remembered this Blue Hour post (gosh, those pictures are so beautiful.) When I saw the date, I almost fell off my chair (well, not really. But it’s not so far fetched, I am a bit of a klutz) :p Anyway, I seriously can’t believe how time flies and how long it’s already been since I made your acquaintance. I’m so glad I found my way to the porch. You have so many wonderful tips and ideas, good info, beautiful pictures and fun stories to share. :D I guess it’s true what they say, Time flies when you’re having fun. ;)

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