Breakwater at the blue hour – Bulb Exposure tips

Timing is the alpha and omega for landscape photography. In this post I’ll tell you, when is the blue hour and why it is important for bulb exposure.


That was our last evening in Holland. Me and my wife were there seven days. It is very nice there but also very windy. This spot I found yet in Germany by using Google Maps. I wanted to photograph beautiful sunset there. According suncalc the sun should go down at 9:18 p.m. On this day we were traveling a lot and got to the hotel room for short break around 7:30 p.m. I have lain down and overslept the sunset :) Quick in the car and we were just after sunset on the spot.

Tip 1: Always put the alarm clock on

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Two important factors in landscape photography are weather and timing. We can’t influence weather but on time from shooting. The best time is sunrise and sunset +/- hour before and after. The Blue Hour is the hour after the sun has completely disappeared and the sky is really blue.

Tokyo Blue Hour
Tokyo Blue Hour – Canon 600D EF-S 18-55mm 1:3,5-5,6 IS II ISO 400 F4.5 1/15 – @Vlad Stawizki

Tip 2: Try to shoot when the sun isn’t shining very strong

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I had, as always, my 600D camera with me, but this time with wide-angle lens from Tokina. AT-X124 PRO DX II is a lens with focal lengths of 12-24 and an aperture of 4. An objective of the mid-range and very good for landscape photography. I bought this lens used for $300 and am very happy with it. You can also rent the lenses to see if they are good or not. For long exposure you need a sturdy tripod and a remote release. I carried a tripod from Rollei for $120. This is good price for a tripod, it keeps forever and will not broke. A infrared remote release costs about $5-$10. If you want to make exposure time longer then 30 sec you need a remote release. So is described even in the instructions from your camera :)

Tip 3: Buy your equipment wisely and for specific purpose

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For this shoot I used M-Mode of my camera, because I wanted Blob exposure of 210 sec or more. I put the aperture on 22 so that everything remains sharp and so I could turn the exposure time to 210 sec. The sea was rough that day and by the long exposure time I could do it so smoothly.

  • Shutter speed: BLOB / 210 sec
  • Aperture: f22
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length 12
Breakwater at the blue hour bulb exposure tips RAW
Breakwater at the blue hour bulb exposure tips RAW


I make my photos always in RAW-Format. For Post-Processing I use Adobe Lightroom. The license for this software costs not much and it’s very good to develop RAW images. In this post I won’t explain how to use Lightroom. This is very extensively. I post my settings for this image below. Notice the noise reduction settings. After lightening the image has a lot of noise.

Breakwater at the blue hour lightroom settings
Breakwater at the blue hour lightroom settings


This is a result image in full size. All rights reserved. When using this image, please link to this post and qoute the author.

Breakwater at the blue hour bulb exposure tips
Breakwater at the blue hour bulb exposure tips

One Comment

    March 5

    If the sky is overcast then the duration of Blue Hour will shorten and in some instances the clouds can be too dense soas to wash out the complete Blue Hour.

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