Shooting in the Blue Hour

Image of DeSoto Falls during the blue hour captured by Toby Gant

Image of DeSoto Falls during the blue hour captured by Toby Gant

The “blue hour” of photography is the period of time that occurs every morning and evening when we are between daylight and darkness. (Known as twilight.) I shoot frequently in State and National parks and most do not open their gates to the public until the sun is well into the sky. This makes the blue hour and usually the “golden hour” impossible to shoot. And it’s unfortunate for those of us that are outdoor photographers to miss the best hours of light each day. So, what’s the solution? Well, you can try to make arrangements with the park office to shoot during those hours or simply stay the night. Most parks have camping facilities and some larger parks even have lodges on site.

In the case of this image, I took my kids camping. We woke about an hour and a half before sunrise. We ate a simple breakfast and trekked in the darkness to the falls. We found ourselves at the falls just at the start of the blue hour and had a great time capturing images. One main advantage other than the incredible light during this period of the day is that you will find you have more privacy. Even though the campground was full, we had the falls to ourselves. We didn’t see another person until we arrived back at camp.

This image was captured using my 16-35mm f/4 tripod mounted using a circular polarizer. There was so little light that I could not gain critical focus using my headlamp. I had to use the distance scale on my lens to estimate focus. (I was dead on in all my captures that morning.) This particular image was a 25 second exposure at f/16, ISO 200. Needless to say, a sturdy tripod is a must. Another advantage to shooting this time of day is that there is usually no wind. This gives you sharp detail even with long exposures. Notice even the foliage is sharp and shows no signs of movement over such a long period of time.

Thanks as always for stopping by. Happy Easter.


Panther Falls – Chattahoochee National Forest

Panther Falls - Toby Gant -3219

I captured this image of Panther Falls on my way to Angel Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The visibility of Panther falls is not nearly as obstructed as the view of Angel Falls.


I captured this image using my 16-35mm f/4, tripod mounted using a circular polarizer. You can view some of my gallery images at Thanks as always for stopping by.


Angel Falls – Chattahoochee National Forest

Angel Falls - Toby Gant -3197

Last week I visited Angel Falls near Lakemont, Georgia. The Angel Falls Trail leads from the campgrounds near Lake Rabun and is part of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The trail is well maintained. Hiking the trail along Joe Branch Creek, you’ll also pass Panther Falls . The 1 mile trail is rated at moderately strenuous. I would recommend a good pair of shoes and a bottle of water if you are going to visit. But, there is so much to stop and look at along the way, I think you’ll find the journey is quick and exhilarating.

I captured this image using my 16-35mm f/4 tripod mounted and using a circular polarizer. Thanks for stopping by.

Base of the Falls – Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Fall - Toby Gant -2999

If you visit Fall Creek Falls state park near Pikeville, Tennessee, you’ll have a great view of the falls from the overlook. But, if you take a few minutes to take the short hike from the top of the falls to the base, you won’t be disappointed. The short trail takes you through an incredibly beautiful heavily wooded forest. And at the end of the trail you come out at the base of the falls of course.

When you make it to the base of the falls you (And your camera.) are showered by a fine mist from the falls. Wanting to show the flow of the falls, I set my shutter speed to a full second or more. But, after only a second, my polarizer was saturated. I had to shoot and dry the filter over and over again. I was concerned momentarily that I would not be able to get a clear image at all. But, looking around at this incredible place that is serene and volatile at the same time. The experience alone was enough even if I didn’t get a single capture. Thanks for stopping by.