Forget Golden Hour. Hong Kong’s Blue Hour Is Where the Magic’s At

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  • Author: Laura Mallonee. Laura Mallonee Photo
  • Date of Publication: 05.10.16. 05.10.16
  • Time of Publication: 7:00 am. 7:00 am

Forget Golden Hour. Hong Kong’s Blue Hour Is Where the Magic’s At

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Twice each day, for about an hour after sunrise and again before sunset, the sun casts a hazy, golden hue over the landscape. Photographers call it the golden hour or the magic hour because it bathes the world in soft, flattering light.

Sometimes, if the weather cooperates and the sky is clear, a photographer is lucky enough to work in the blue hour, that sliver of time just before sunrise or just after sunset when the world is awash in saturated, almost surreal, shades of blue. “It is brief and rare, so it makes it challenging to capture, but also more rewarding to witness,” says Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze, who uses the light to maximum effect in his ongoing series and photo book The Blue Moment.

Blue hour is something of a misnomer, as it typically occurs in the 30 to 40 minutes before twilight when the sun is 4 to 6 degrees below the horizon. Red light, with its long wavelength, largely passes through the atmosphere into space, while blue light, with its shorter wavelength, gets scattered and diffused. This quiet, relaxed time when the world is not quite dark yet not quite light is a frequent source of inspiration for photographers, artists, and writers.

Jacquet-Lagrèze, a French photographer who’s spent the past seven years in China, never really noticed the phenomenon until a sunset photoshoot last spring. Now, he’s hooked on it. He scouts locations around Hong Kong, shooting from rooftops with spectacular views of the skyline. He favors a Phase One medium format camera and long exposures that enhance the scenery and the soothing hue.

His beautiful images show blue enveloping the city like a spell as ultramarine, cobalt, and azure offer a cool contrast to the warmth of the city lights. It’s refreshing to see Hong Kong—a city photographed countless times—in new light.

The Blue Moment is on view at Blue Lotus Gallery in Hong Kong through June 25.

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