Blue Hour

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Blue (Dutch goes the Photo!)

Blues have a clue here!

Created by photographer Frank Jansen, the Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers of all kinds to share both new and old photography.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Blue (Dutch goes the Photo!)

Blues have a clue here!

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Blue Waters

When I checked Frank's website for the challenge theme and I saw his image of .. in Iceland, I couldn't help thinking of the beaches of Antigua and Bequia. I just love all that blue. I find blue very calming and that water reminds me of one of the places in Antigua where I lived when I was in high-school. The house where we lived was just up the roads from the aptly named, Blue Waters beach. I have many fond memories running along the sand and playing in the shallow calm water.

New Jersey is the world far away from Antigua. New Jersey has many beaches -- some good, some are just casino's on the sand -- along with her long Mid-Atlantic coastline. I've visited a few of these beaches -- Sandy Hook, Seaside Heights, Island Beach State Park, Barnegat Light, Asbury Park and Wildwood -- but in my opinion, none compare to the beaches I had in the Caribbean. I live in Skillman, Montgomery Township, a few kilometers (~ 4 miles) from Princeton University) but a little under 64 km (~ 40 miles) from the nearest beach (Asbury Park). With New Jersey traffic that translates to 10 minutes drive to Princeton compared to just over one hour drive to Asbury Park. For this challenge, I knew that with rain expected Saturday and Sunday I would have no chance of photographing sunny blue skies. So I left myself open to alternative ideas.

Rutgers University

blue, Center For Latino Arts, structure, building
Center For Latino Arts - AF-S Nikkor 18-55m f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f/4.0, 1/32s, ISO 100
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Last Tuesday, Shaan started his four-year program in biology at the Honors College at Rutgers Univerity. Bhavna and I took the day off to help him move into his residence hall. The campus in New Brunswick is only a 30-minute drive from home and 45 minutes by trains. But with teary eyes, we left our teenage adult to be on his own for the first time. The change is a bit unsettling. My wife has observed that even though he would sometimes annoy us by talking while we watching on of our cable dramas, we missed his voice.

We were back on campus on Saturday to drop off some items that Shaan felt he needed as well as to satisfy our need to see that he adjusting to his new home. He only had 45 minutes to hang out with us before he had to run off to one of several campus-wide orientation events. It was lunch time so we walked the campus looking for lunch. I remarked to my daughter that doing a photo challenge for the word blue on a college campus whose logo colour is red with a football team called The Scarlet Knights, would indeed be a challenge. And for opening weekend, the campus was a sea of red. As we walked College Avenue toward the Panera Bread, I noticed the artwork on the building for the Center For Latino Arts. I had a bit of blue and a decent photograph but still not what I was looking for.


blue, blue hour
AF-S Nikkor 18-55m f/3.5-5.6 @ 24 mm f/4.0, 5s, ISO 100
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It rained on Saturday. It's Sunday as I write this and it's still raining. Tomorrow's forecast is sunny and warm but rain is expected the rest of the week into next weekend. I have a camera poncho but rarely use it. I mostly shoot near the woods and streams of the nearby towns -- Hopewell, Princeton, Skillman, and Hillsborough. When I do get out in inclement weather I just have to be aware and alert. Trees (I'm surrounded by those) are attractors for lighting and streams (lots of these too) can quickly become dangerous.

The camera poncho might be useful when shooting in light rain but useless in a downpour. Of course, the camera is protected but the photographer gets wet. But last night as it rained I looked outside, taking a break from binge-watching Van Helsing on Netflix, and saw that the sun had set. It was blue hour. A few seconds later, I realized what that meant.

Oh, you fool! It's blue hour! Get the camera! Get the tripod! Get the remote!

Within minutes I had a few shots that I felt good about. I especially like the one with the light trail of the passing car. I snapped several shots at various exposure times and went back to watching my show. Did I mention that blue is my favourite colour?


Created by photographer Frank Jansen, the Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers of all kinds to share both new and old photography.

Opie's Grist Mill at Night, Belle Mead, New Jersey

The first grist mill, built in 1721, was destroyed by fire about the end of the 18th century.

Since I moved with my family to the Skillman section of Montgomery Township in 2001 I have been interested in the history of the area. What are all these names I see repeated on street names and buildings even in Princeton? Names like Harlingen, van Zandt, and Skillman.

Belle Mead was part of the Western Precinct of Somerset County before the creation of Mercer County. Until 1838, the Montgomery Township border went as far south as Nassau Street. Portions of the town and Somerset County were later ceded to Mercer County and Princeton Township. The township was settled by land speculators from the former New Amsterdam (Long Island) after the land area was ceded to the British.

The first grist mill, built in 1721, was destroyed by fire at about the end of the 18th century. The second grist mill was built in the early 1800s.

Bhavana and I showed up at the Grist Mill site about one hour before sunset. We chatted while I walked around looking for the "right" composition. She wanted to know why we got there so early so I explained to her that sunset to blue hours occurs in a very short time and rushing around while the light faded was not what I wanted. I think she was annoyed by the bugs that were buzzing around. She walked back to sit in the car.

I had some challenges with cars driving over the bridge in the middle of my exposures and soon I grew tired of being bitten by mosquitoes and other insects. After about two exposures I packed up and joined her in the car to head back home.

I think I'll come back another time, perhaps in the early morning, to shoot some long exposures of water flowing over the small dam. It's at an odd angle but I may be able to set up the tripod near the foot of the water.

Dance in The Blue Hour

This is one of many pieces of sculpture to be found at the Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey. My night and low light course instructor, Rick Wright, took the class on a field trip. The Grounds are a favorite spot for New Jersey photographers. I'm not fan of sculpture and the sky was overcast and I was doubtful I would find anything to photograph. I walked around looking for something to strike my eye. I was convinced the field trip would yield nothing.

All the artwork is sculpture based on famous paintings. The sculptures are placed and organized among a scenic and nicely landscaped property. Shrubbery, flora, and several other nature based aspects help to highlight the sculptures that are placed all around the grounds.

It's easy sometimes to forget the simple things that give us pleasure. If we open our eyes, life is marvelous. The human spirit triumphs, if only for moments in a day. I try to have my work call attention to those moments.Seward Johnson

Henri Matisse painted a piece known as “Dance,” which depicts a boy laying under a circle of dancing women, holding hands and surrounding the boy as he lays in both relaxation. Seward Johnson interpretation of the original painting of “Dance” is a larger than life-size sculpture that is selectively lit for viewing at night.

I focused my efforts on this re-imagining of Henri Matisse's "The Dance". I walked around looking for a composition that worked for me. Once I found my spot I sat on the nearby park bench and waited. "The Dance" was going to be my project for the night. I took a few shots during the Golden Hour and then waited for blue hour. I took a set of images at various exposures and messed around with the white balance setting. Of the set of images, this one is my favorite.

I like how the sculpture is reflected in the pond and how the pond water darkened the purple-blue-red of the sky.