First Lights Hovering Above Panama City’s Skyline


“He who seeks beauty will find it.”Bill Cunningham

After a disastrous photo session at the Coastal Strip a few weeks ago, I planned another trip to the site in an effort to save face.  Only this time the pictures would be taken at dawn on a Sunday morning with sparse traffic and almost no people around.  The Coastal Strip would be all to myself, my tripod and camera.  I made sure the Auto Focus was On as soon as I placed the camera on the tripod.  I promised not make the same mistake twice.

After making sure the camera was properly positioned on a tripod on top of a pedestrian bridge, and the settings were adjusted to the amount of low light on the site, I was ready to activate the shutter hoping for the best.  My wife told me to calm down, as my hands was shaking showing how nervous I was.

These are the five pictures that were finally selected after the photo session was over.  I was pleased with what I saw.  Here we go.

Photograph of Panama City’s skyline at dawn. Everything looked blueish. The blue hour bathes the metropolis and the bay in blue light. Please click on all images to expand them. The graphic effect is very dramatic. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

The blue hour and the golden hour are names photographers use to describe specific parts of the day when the light has particularly desirable properties for photography. The light found during these times of day can produce some of the most stunning photography possible. While filters can sometimes approximate this lighting effect, it is nearly impossible to capture the true quality of light from the Blue Hour at any other time in any other way.

The blue hour is the time of day when the light takes on a strong blue tone. The sky becomes a deep and rich blue that appears to have almost a smooth, creamy texture. The earth is covered in the bluish tinted light that gives a feeling of nighttime without hiding details like often is the result of true night photos. The blue hour is an excellent time for taking photos of nighttime objects that are very bright like the moon.

Notice how the sky begins to open up giving way to the subtle lights of daybreak. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

When looking at the blue hour and the golden hour, the blue hour generally produces the most unique lighting of the two hours. The blue hour is also the most misleading term as it doesn’t even come close to lasting a full hour. In reality, what photographers call the blue hour really only lasts about 20 minutes. The blue hour generally lasts the 20 to 30 minutes just after sunset and just before sunrise. For example, if the sun sets at 5:00 p.m., the blue hour would last from approximately 5:10 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. If the sun rises at 5:00 a.m., the blue hour lasts from about 4:30 a.m. to 4:50 a.m. The exact timing of the blue hour will vary from location to location and change depending on time of year and air quality.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
As the day begins to break, you can see the light of the sun reflected on the glass of the buildings on your left. It was an awesome view with a cool breeze wafting from the Pacific Ocean. No cars, no people, no nothing. Just the the city, the lights, my wife and me. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
The sun was exiting from the darkness and we were ready to wrap it up and go home. Mission accomplished! Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

The gear I used to take these pictures were:

  • Camera:  DSLR Canon EOS Rebel T2i
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (fixed focal prime lens)
  • Canon Wireless Remote Control for activating the camera’s shutter.
  • Post Processing:  Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 and Pixlr

In my opinion, these are the best pictures I’ve taken in five years, however as they say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Please remember to expand the photographs, the view of the skyline is stunning, in search of a better word.  Good Day.

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4 thoughts on “First Lights Hovering Above Panama City’s Skyline”

  1. I agree! You got some great ones. And each one is cropped right, level (needed for architecture photos), and there isn’t as much duplication as usual. A set to be proud of!

  2. Ben, thanks a lot for your positive remarks. I’ve been working very hard to uplift my pictures, and so far this is the best I’ve shot in five years. Still working to master Adobe Photoshop 7 and planning in buying Adobe Lightroom 5, even though I understand it has a steep learning curve. But as they say, “no pain, no gain.” I appreciate your time in furnishing your positive comments. Thank you once more.

  3. No way to make a choice of favorites here. Each has its own distinctive beauty. I’m with your wife, though — no need for anxiety. Have fun, and enjoy the learning process. As the programmer Alan Kay once said, “If you’re not failing 90% of the time, you aren’t aiming high enough.”

  4. Last night I was going to send you an e-mail requesting a critique of my pictures, but then I got cold feet. I definitely wanted to get your feed back on this set of pictures. So far, it’s the best I’ve come up with.

    Promise to keep aiming high as you previously commented. Thank you Linda for your continued encouragement and support.

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