Gold & Blue Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum photographed during the blue hour twilight, just before sunrise, with the moon and an almost perfect reflection. ...
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The Guggenheim Museum photographed during the blue hour twilight, just before sunrise, with the moon and an almost perfect reflection.
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2 Comments | Report
jensuzanne PRO
jensuzanne June 01, 2020
stigfagerli PRO+
stigfagerli July 12, 2020
Fantastic foto love it

Behind The Lens

I took this photograph in the city of Bilbao, Spain, across the river Nervion, while I was teaching one of my photography students in a 1v1 class. It portrays the world-famous Guggenheim Museum and it's reflection.
This is probably one of my favorite images from 2019. It was taken during the blue hour, at dawn, just before sunrise, exactly at 6:33 AM. I was lucky enough to get a day with almost no wind, that provided a good reflection on the water.
The soft light of early dawn was perfect for the contrast with the lamposts and other artificial light wasn't too harsh. The color contrast between the blue in the sky and the golden tones of the artificial lightning in the museum worked so well that I liked this shot a lot better than the ones taken afterwards, during sunrise.
This was shot with my very old Canon 7D, and the cheap 11-16 Tokina lens, at 11mm (equivalent to 17mm due to crop sensor), placed on a manfrotto tripod. You definitely don't need the latest gear to take a more than decent shot. In this case I chose to use bracketing, so I had a wider dynamic range in case I needed it. I ended up using only two of the shots, both at ISO 100, f/8. One of them was a 5 second shot, so I could get detail on lights and avoid burning, and the other one was a 20 second shot that provided detail in shadows and avoided noise from appearing. I think I recall using the "black card" technique, which consists on using any piece of black material (cardboard, for example) in front of the lens, covering the sky area during maybe half the shot, so the effect is similar to that of a graduated ND.
The color contrast and the reflection were so beautiful in my eyes that I had no choice but to take this picture.
Many people do a ton of post-procesing on landscape photography. I sometimes do, when needed, but I rather keep it simple if possible. As mentioned i used two consecutive shots, but I just merged them into an HDR shot in Lightroom (very simple, no masks involved). Most of the post-processing was done using this same software. I used some graduated filters to darken the top and bottom areas and draw the attention towards the subject of my picture. I applied the usual lens-correction, a little focus enhancing, and a very subtle touch on the white balance. I made sure that the vertical lines looked straight. I don't think I even used photoshop, but I did use nik color efex to add some softening-like effect.
In my camera bag
My Canon 7D with the already mentioned tokina 11-16 2.8, a very cheap a nice combo. Obviously a tripod, and depending where i go, I can bring the Canon 50 mm 1.4 or a cheap tele lens. I always bring my tripod with me and a flashlight in case I need it. Also a remote control for avoiding trepidation when shooting, and being able to shoot in bulb mode if a need to.
Probably the time and weather are two of the most important aspects in landscape or citiscape photography. First and last hours of the day are usualy the best ones. Watch the forecasts, plan ahead, and if it doesn't work, repeat until you get the desired results. Composition is also essential in my work, a good framing can make a huge difference between a good and mediocre shot.

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