Blue Hour

Musée du Louvre

Musée du Louvre

My wife and I recently celebrated our 10th anniversary in Paris. While there, we visited a number of tourist spots to include the Louvre. It's one of the best museums I have visited and is unbelievably huge. It is said that if you spend 30 seconds in front of each item for 8 hours a day that it would take you 100 days to see every piece. I don't know how true that is, but it's believable. 

The Louvre has an extensive history. It was originally built as a fortress around 1190 by Phillip II, and later used as a palace through the middle ages until Louis XIV moved his palace and the government to Versailles in 1682. During that quiet time the Louvre was used as a residence for artists and later opened as a museum in 1793 after the French Revolution.

Fast forward to the evening of July 17, 2016. After a long day viewing many of the Louvre's priceless works, to include da Vinci's Mona Lisa, we left for another fantastic Parisian dinner. After dinner we walked back to the Louvre and hung out on one of its many stoops waiting for blue hour to arrive.

Blue hour is that time of night just after golden hour. It is the period of twilight that occurs at early dawn or late dusk when the sun is significantly below the horizon when indirect sunlight takes on a blue hue. It typically lasts for about 40 minutes, and the quality of the light is treasured by photographers and artists alike.

Sunset was at 9:47pm, and this image was taken at 10:56pm. After arriving back at the Louvre, my wife and I waited a couple of hours for this moment. I'd say it was well worth it as I love this photo. 

I started shooting right after sunset around 10pm, but the sky was still too bright to display the pyramid and the lights on the building. This was also the second location I shot from, and I like this angle much better than the first. Not only does it showcase the pyramid well, but I also like how it shows the motion of the ferris wheel in the background, and the starbursts from the street lamps.

The camera settings are straight forward. The aperture was set to f/8 for a deeper depth of field, ISO was set to 200 so the image had as little grain as possible, and the exposure was set to four seconds. The lens focussed on the pyramid. To avoid any camera shake I used my little travel tripod and the camera's timer.

A fun side note to this image was the number of other photographers making similar photographs along with others photographing models, and couples in formal wear. Some were using flash photography within a long exposure to highlight the couples with the Louvre in the background. I enjoyed watching and learning from their creative styles.

The architecture of the Louvre is just stunning. Any photograph taken of it is beautiful, and yet I still struggle to grasp the magnitude of its size and the impression it puts upon you. I would say that is also true of Paris itself. It's such a majestic and wonderful city. If you have the opportunity to visit, take it, you won't be disappointed.