The Magic Hour – How to make buildings look great.

The Water Poet, Spitalfields

Text and picture World © Geoff Wilkinson – All rights reserved.

The most interesting hour for taking pictures of buildings for me is called many things by different photographers.

There is a short period of time at dusk that is perfect for photography. As it gets darker, the lights from a building appear brighter, enough to shine out from the gathering night. This brief period has many names, the golden hour, blue hour, magical hour but whatever it’s called it’s a fantastic period that makes architectural photography great. It just brings buildings to life, they appear to glow, they leap out of the approaching night. But don’t wait too long, you need to take your picture when there is still some light left in the sky to get this great effect.

This is The Water Poet Pub ( situated on the corner of Blossom Street and Folgate Street in Spitalfields. I had passed it many times as I walked around the area looking for pictures. The light had never been quite right, too harsh, too dull or if the light was right there were just too many cars, vans or people getting in the way to make it a worthwhile picture, I put it to the back of my mind.

After a few weeks I thought I would try my luck again, I waited for an afternoon with clear skies and headed off. It was late afternoon when I arrived and being November with the nights closing in the lights had started to come on in offices, house and of course ‘The Water Poet’.

In this particular photograph I wanted to encompass a ‘big’ scene and go very wide so I used the 10/24mm Nikon zoom at 10mm. That way not only could I get in the pub and the office block behind but I could also squeeze in the edge of the building I was standing next to and the building over the road. These to me are very important in this pictures as they provide part of a ‘frame’ around the image. The whole effect of the golden light against the dark blue sky is a great tool in your photographic arsenal.

As Mrs Wilkinson has pointed out to me ‘almost every picture you have posted so far has been an upright’, she’s right. This is a landscape format for a bit of a change and just in case you are wondering if I only photograph Spitalfields, I don’t. There are lots more locations and situations to come so please keep following.

Technical info: Nikon D80 camera in Aperture priority, handheld, with a 10/24mm zoom lens at 10mm. The shutter speed was .5 of a second and the aperture was f4. The ISO 250

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