Like most photographers, I’m always looking for the right location, the right angle, the perfect light and the right moment to make the photograph.

Whether I’m traveling abroad or walking around Boston, near my studio, one of my favorite times to shoot is Blue Hour, after the sunsets and the sky goes to cobalt blue. The colors get richer as the sky darkens, until there is just no light left in the sky.

Exposing during Blue Hour

I am always looking for additional element to bring my photograph to life. Is there a building with lights that will show against the darkening sky? With a bright sky, you will not see these lights. It’s an exposure balancing act between the sky and the light from the buildings or a bus!

Using the in-camera meter, I read the light in the sky and the light from the buildings. When the exposures match or are close, that’s when I make my photograph. I make several frames as the ambient light in the sky is changing, and the exposures become quite long as I woke off a tripod with a shutter release that’s connected to my camera. For the long exposures, I use the “mirror up” setting to eliminate camera shake, and close the eye piece to prevent stray light from hitting the sensor. If you are using a mirrorless camera there is no mirror up setting, because there is no mirror.

Traveling in London

This photograph of Tower Bridge in London was published in “National Geographic Night Visions” as a double spread. In a photograph like this I wait for traffic to pass by while I am making the exposure. The headlights and tail lights add a feeling of movement and color to the image.

In the Tower Bridge photograph, the top red streak and the yellow streak came from a double decker bus crossing the bridge. I took this photograph a few years back with a Nikon D810, with a 17-35mm lens on a Induro tripod with an Acratech head. Today I would shoot with a similar setup, swapping out the D810 for a D850.

I was in London teaching my “Location Lighting Workshop” at the Societies of Wedding & Portrait Photographers Convention. This is a wonderful annual event, but due to Covid-19, the next convention is scheduled for March 16-19, 2022.

The photographs below of a bus in Piccadilly Circus was taken with a Nikon 16mm fisheye.

A double decker bus in Piccadilly Circus, London, UK. (Rick Friedman/Polaris)

The last photograph is also from Piccadilly Circus of traffic merging.

A double decker bus in Piccadadilly Circus, London, UK. (Rick Friedman/Polaris)

I processed these photographs using LuminarAI. I am quickly becoming a big fan of this program.   

This technique of long exposure and movement can be done almost anywhere.