Blue Hour at Split Rock

This is another picture I made a couple of weeks back while on the North shore of Lake Superior. I was staying only about 10 miles from Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and wanted to make sure I shot at least one sunrise there. I headed out around 4 AM to get set up and hopefully make a couple of shots. The sky didn’t get much color but I did enjoy working on shoreline compositions and putting the lighthouse in the distant background. Besides the shooting info below I also used a cpl to eliminate a little glare on the water and wet rocks and then added a 2 stop soft edge grad just over the brightest part of the sky.
Any thoughts and or suggestions welcome.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Does this composition work for you?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Canon 5DMk4, Canon 16-35 F/4 @ 20mm, ISO 50, F/16, 3.2 sec.

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

If you would like your image to be eligible for a feature on the NPN Instagram (@NaturePhotoNet), add the tag ‘ig’ and leave your Instagram username below.
You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

I like this a lot Nick, esp the FG. Lots of nice detail. I assume you got away with one exposure because of the lighting.

Thank you, Michael, and I’m glad you like it. Yes, I get it with one exposure. I did use a 2 stop soft grad to cover the brighter part of the sky just to hold it back some (which I should have put in the technical details). I have several grad and ND filters and still enjoy using them when I can. I know the grad in Lightroom seems to work really well too. Thanks, Nick

Nick, I really like this scene and the amount of rocky shoreline you included. I also think the colors and shadows look appropriate for the conditions. My only minor nit is the finger of rock touching the edge of the mid frame on the right side. I would add a bit of breathing room if you have it but it’s very minor.
Nice work!

Wonderful moody image, Nick. I love the rugged beauty of the FG rocks and the way they compliment the tones of the cloud laden sky. The sky is soft and fleeting while the rocks are rugged and unyielding. My only suggestion would be just a touch more room on the right so that that one piece of rock was not clipped off. Maybe a bit more canvas if you were so inclined. Not a biggie though because this is lovely as is.

Nick, I think you did a fine job with exposure, and the darker cools work really well. The sheen of light on the slabs of rock make this very attractive. I had the very same thoughts as @Alan_Kreyger about some space at right. And Only just barely enough for the rock to clear, because I think an excess of more open water might begin to feel imbalanced. Just my thoughts.

Alan, Ed, and Bill, Thanks so much guys. I very much appreciate your thoughts on this. I agree just a bit more room on the right would be better and I have this almost same shot a bit wider. Better process it too. Thank you!

Beautiful work, Nick. The light is magical. It reminds me of summer evenings in Alaska.

What a dreamy and mysterious image, Nick. Love the darker rendering and subtle colors. The long exposure has provided a great mood. Processing and composition look good to me.

Igor and Dave, Thanks guys for taking time to comment. Great getting your thoughts! Nick

Nick, you ended up with a wonderfully moody image out of what some others might have walked away from as gloomy conditions. I agree with @Bill_Leggett, it’s the sheen of light on the right side rocks that sets this image apart for me. That and the blue toned look of the color.

Regarding Alan’s comment on the clipped rock, he has a point because it looks like it was clipped by accident, not design. If you do not have more breathing room in this image or another one, I think this image would also look better if you actually cropped slightly tighter on the right so that it looks more like a more deliberate cropping of those rocks. You might also be able instead to add canvas and attempt to add room via Content Aware Fill.

I like this a lot Nick. I agree with others that a little more room on the right would be nice but I really do like the light. Reminds me of Maine in some ways.

Ed and Eva, Thank you and I’m so glad you enjoyed this image. I agree I need a little more room on the right and working on that. I also have another shot very much the same but a bit wider and could go to that one. Thanks so much for your thoughts all. Nick


Terrific mood here and you’ve captured and portrayed the “blue hour” beautifully.

For me, this isn’t really about the light - it’s diffused, etc., but it is about the mood, colors and details. I especially like how the rugged rocks are reflecting that blue hour color especially in the LR quadrant. The composition is nicely balanced and complete with the rest of the rock shore and inclusion of the headland and lighthouse. I think the amount of sky is just right and the little tiny hint of color other than blue/cyan adds a welcome touch to the scene.

My only suggestion is to raise the luminosity in the darkest area in the rock right of center. The overall mood and exposure are great helping to create that mood, but I get stuck in the darkness there.

Also agree on a smidge of canvas on the right, but that’s minor.


Thanks Lon! Really appreciate your thoughts on this. I see your point now about that dark shadow area in the rock and will work on that. Lake Superior is all about moods to me and I’m so glad that comes through for you. Thanks and have a great weekend! Nick