There is a time, just before sunrise, and right after sunset, that is known as l’heure bleue –the "Blue Hour. " Otherwise known as twilight, it is a time when landscapes, themselves, seem to be the source of the light in a photograph. It is a time of ethereal softness, with open shadows and detail in the highlights. That’s when accomplished amateur photographer Gary Fua captured this Yahoo! Travel Photo of The Week.
Visiting Crater Lake National Park, in southern Oregon, Fua timed his hike to the caldera of the extinct volcano, Mount Mazama, for a Blue Hour arrival. (The ephemeral light only last for thirty minutes, not an hour, but the term “Blue Half-hour” has never caught on.) We are given a hint of the effect the ethereal view had on Mr. Fua by the title he chose for the photo: “Spellbound.” One can almost hear the quietness and feel the crisp, cold air.
It is best to plan Blue Hour photos in advance. There are apps and software that show the exact time twilight will begin and how long it will last. Images with snow in them always look best when captured during the Blue Hour, but that skosh of pink, coming from the setting sun, adds suspense: We see that the sun is dropping below the horizon; soon darkness will come, and we’ll hear wolves howl.
Driving the back roads, to a national park, and taking pictures is something we all might do…in summer. But, only the most courageous and determined will crunch through snow to the edge of a cliff to take a picture as the sun is going down. It can be exhausting: tripods become unruly in cold and snow; fingers stiffen and long to hold a mug of hot chocolate. The results, however, can be richly rewarding, as is this portrait of Crater Lake, Wizard Island and the last kiss of sunlight on Friday, January 4, 2013.