The Blue Hour in Barcelona

The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.

– Haruki Murakami, Dance, Dance, Dance

The first time I ever heard of the blue hour was through my friend Randall. In photography there are two blue hours in the day: approximately one hour before dawn and one hour before sunset. I’m not sure if it literally means that the sky will turn an amazing shade of blue in the photos during these moments. I think it is so, and that you can also play with the light to create stunning effects in the colours.

I had been wanting to go out to try and see if I could capture this blue hour. This evening I had a bit of time to spare so I went out to do the experiment. I think I possibly found some positive results. They are nowhere near as dramatic as his photos, so for truly bewitching blue hour photos please visit his post about the blue hour.

When I went out the sun was setting or had just set at that moment. The shots with the sky turned out a haunted grey, like so…

just-before-the-blue-hour

A few minutes later, as if by magic, the photos appeared with a royal blue sky.

bue-hour-2

blue-hour-in-barcelona

blue-hour-3

Nearly one hour later – I think it was less – the blue turned into deeper shades of night.

after-the-blue-hour

Thank you for visiting!

28 Comments

  1. Guillermina Stover 2014-10-19 at 22:25

    Wow…fascinating, as usual, Sofia!!!!

    Reply
  2. Guillermina Stover 2014-10-19 at 22:28

    I just left a message on the photo you posted in Instagram, the model whose body is being painted by an artist: “beautiful, exquisite, voluptuous colors!”

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-10-19 at 23:26

      Guillermina it was amazing, it took the artist many hours to do. It was at a (beauty) trade show, I was there for way too many hours, so I passed in front of them every hour or so, I can say it took hours to make. Not only the artist, the model must have been pretty tired of keeping stiff and still. The result was amazing!

      Reply
  3. maamej 2014-10-19 at 23:19

    Very atmospheric pics. I’ve seen this blue & I love it but have had trouble capturing it.

    Reply
  4. Sunny 2014-10-19 at 23:33

    AMAZING shots, Sofia! They’re so mesmerizing! The weather still looks nice and balmy in Barcelona. I’m jealous (OK, we did have an almost summery weekend here, but I think it’s the last one)!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-10-19 at 23:39

      Hey Sunny, I just got back from Madrid today and it was way more colder there. Barcelona is still quite warm in comparison… lets see how long that lasts! Ooh, a summery weekend in Belgium in October is impressive xxx

      Reply
  5. Sue 2014-10-20 at 00:15

    Oh my gosh these are amazing! I cant wait to try myself!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-10-20 at 00:53

      I can’t wait to see your results!

      Reply
  6. davegon 2014-10-20 at 00:26

    Wow. Amazing pictures! Reminds me of Van Gogh. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-10-20 at 00:42

      You know what? I read that Van Gogh had quoted something like there is no blue without yellow or orange (or something like that) these photos in particular sort of contain his thoughts on blue. Have a great week ahead!

      Reply
  7. Supriya 2014-10-20 at 01:20

    Looks magical!!! I had heard of the blue & golden hour, but I thought that was just “a thing that photographers said” – that it was a good time to take photos. LoL. Now I know it’s for “real”.

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-10-21 at 15:40

      Hi Supriya! Yeah, I’m no pro so the blue hour is for real! I have to plan on finding the time to do the golden hour too.

      Reply
      1. Supriya 2014-10-22 at 11:12

        I think I should give it a shot too… or may be its too ambitious..

        Reply
  8. Frugal Hausfrau 2014-10-20 at 02:47

    Gorgeous! It’s like a little magic! What talent you have…

    Reply
  9. Amanda 2014-10-21 at 17:22

    That’s so cool! Gorgeous photos!

    Reply
  10. Susan 2014-10-21 at 21:35

    How beautiful! I wish I understood exactly why the sky turned such a gorgeous color from one moment to the next. Your experiment definitely succeeded!

    Reply
  11. Saskia (1=2) 2014-10-29 at 20:41

    The hairs on my arm still stand on end when I see Murakami’s name. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is still one of the most haunting books I’ve ever read. Have never heard of the blue hour. How fascinating! Definitely going to explore that here. Your neighbourhood looks beautiful Sofia – love the church and alleyway photos.

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-10-30 at 10:03

      I also really enjoyed The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, very haunting indeed. I’m a great fan of his writing and right now am reading the book about running. Thanks, my neighbourhood is one of those still sort of hidden gems that most tourists haven’t realised about – so to keep it that way, I won’t name it here! 😉

      Reply
  12. catalinadelbosque 2014-10-30 at 22:34

    Fascinating! I’ve just discovered your blog and this post really jumped out at me.
    Blue is a colour I’ve always associated with Barcelona since I was at University, I never lived there but I read La Plaça del Diamant, here the heroine struggles against the city and the civil war and the depression that followed. Blue is usually a depressive colour but in this novel blue represents magic and hope, it’s the colour of the street lights on the Gran Via – she needs to cross the Gran Via to be free of her desperate life.
    I’d never heard of this Blue Hour in Barcelona either, but it seems even more intriguing to me when coupled with the book. A shameless promotion, but here’s why I love La Plaça del Diamant : http://chilangaexported.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/the-book-i-cant-put-down/

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-10-30 at 23:02

      Hi! I think this shade of blue is beautiful, not depressive. It’s funny how we all associate differently some things, I associate Barcelona with being colourful (not just blue). The blue hour is everywhere in the world, so you can also try and photograph it wherever you are, you don;t need to be here! Thanks for sharing your link here, I’m glad you got to visit Barcelona and the monument 🙂

      Reply
  13. Dalo 2013 2014-11-01 at 04:00

    Sofia, these are such incredible photos ~ and they best parts is how “you can also play with the light to create stunning effects in the colours”…the yellow, gold and shades of blue are magical in your photos (you’ve outdone me!). Thank you very much for the ‘wave’ and even more for your impressive and incredible photos.

    I love the first shot so much because you there are so many different sources of light (and each source different), and the way they work with the royal blue sky…and the 3rd and 4th shot as well, one thing I found most interesting are the close-ups you did in your last two shots. I’ve never thought about focusing in close on objects/people during the blue hour ~ so you’ve now become the teacher and I am the pupil 🙂 Cheers to a great weekend!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-02 at 00:45

      You are way too kind. Your photos are way more impressive, please! Thanks for your analysis, I like focusing up close, but there is one thing I would love to learn off you and thats how you make photos of people. Everything from how to not be afraid of actually making them (I had one bad encounter, and I wasn’t actually photographing anyone, I was photographing the sky! – so I’ve been sort of scared since then) as to how you make them so great.

      Reply
      1. Dalo 2013 2014-11-04 at 04:03

        People photos can be so much fun, because it usually means getting into the mood of the environment… Sometimes it can be impossible, especially if there are only cranky people around ~ and then it is just better to sit back and enjoy the scene 🙂

        Reply
        1. Sofia 2014-11-04 at 08:42

          Hmm I think I need more photographic confidence maybe..

          Reply
  14. Patty Nguyen 2014-11-03 at 04:25

    Simply stunning. That royal blue is gorgeous.

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2014-11-03 at 09:58

      Oh thanks Patty 🙂

      Reply

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