the night and the blue hour

Updated: Nov 27

“a truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.”

― robertson davies


como conservatory….marjorie mcneely conservatory…called by both names, this is truly one of the more beautiful and spectacular structures in the twin cities in my opinion. it is 107 years old and a prime example of a victorian greenhouse on a grand scale. while it has been updated structurally and has had a new wing added, the original structure still stands out as for its historical significance in the lake como area.


all around that area are incredible homes built in yesteryear. in an era of modern homes that blend into the urbanscape throughout the twin cities and the suburbs (and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; just my interpretation of what I see), there are pockets of spectacular architectural housing. the lake como area is one of them. it still boggles my mind that “masters of their trades” were not paid on the same scale as they are now. to hire someone of that caliber today would be astronomical. there is a reason they are called “masters of their trade” as they worked hard to gain the skills they have.


it had been a while since i had been to the conservatory to make images. i decided it was time to rectify that. it is a very popular place. if you don’t like people, it’s not the place for you to go. even after hours when the conservatory and the zoo on the next plot over are closed, people take to the walking trails throughout this area. i made the images shown here over two different days.


first day (night)


it’s not really an adventure getting to como conservatory (i choose to call it como conservatory as it’s significantly less typing than marjorie mcneely conservatory. but, of course, i typed them both here 😂). unless you count all sorts of crazy fast and, sometimes, road rage drivers. it’s a mere 18 minutes or so from my front door by car. i decided to head out late in the night to make some images. i do seem to have an affinity for making night time images. i love making images all times of the day though. i really do!


once i arrived, i unpacked my gear and made the long and arduous hike to the spot where i wanted to make a certain image. what made it especially hard was the humidity. i was already soaking wet when i arrived. out of breath, i had to stop and sit on a bench to regain my strength from the hike! no…..not really…but i was soaking wet from the humidity! my walk was barely a couple hundred feet or so on a nice paved walkway.


i spent the next half hour to forty-five minutes experimenting with light painting the walkway while making long exposure images of the conservatory lit up. the light sources came from within the glass architecture as well from outside. for some reason, i was having trouble getting the path light painted that was not catching the shadows of my feet walking. i figured out it was just a matter of angling the light source i was using a little further out and away from me. i ended up with my last light painting effort being what i was looking for.



this image is the finished result. i really like the contrasting ambience given off in this image. on the one hand, it lends an air of mystery and a wondering of where the path and steps at the end lead to. alternatively, the image also gives off a peaceful and calm feeling from the warmth of the light emanating from the glass enclosure and its reflection.


one draws you in with the lure of a potential adventure if you choose to venture down the cool and shadowy path of the unknown. the other draws you in with its glowing “beacon light”, a light that calls gently to bring people out of the dark into the light.


second day (a week later)


i had shared a post recently on my facebook page that billowy clouds were calling me to come make images. i decided to head back to como conservatory again for the sunset into blue hour. i thought it would be fun to create a totally different image look and feel from the same area where i made the night image.


by the time i arrived, the billowy clouds had mostly moved on but the lighting from the setting sun was gorgeous! the sun dropped slowly toward the horizon and peeked through various openings in the pine trees. as it was doing so, it was selectively lighting up the exedra (a semi-circle veranda of sorts), portions of the gardens around it and the fir and pine trees behind and adjacent to it. the top of the waterfall spilling out from under the exedra glistened as it caught the rays of the sun. i made a few images as this was happening but i mostly stayed in the moment away from my camera just to watch it all.


as the sun dipped below the horizon, the glass conservatory began to light up from within. then, with each passing moment, the sky seemed to shift and morph as some clouds began to roll in over the conservatory. colors were starting to imprint themselves into the clouds. at first faint, they became more vivid. it started off as a rather bright yellow hue similar to the color of real butter. it began to transition slowly into a rich hue of orange. think of your classic halloween pumpkin color; that’s the color that was unfurling before me at that stage. finally, as golden hour gave way to blue hour, a rich red hue made its presence in a spectacular show of vibrancy!


the red was so vivid that in the image you will see, i slightly desaturated the red as it seemed almost unreal. as i watched and made images throughout this incredible show, it was as if i were watching the Master Painter* in real time, playing with his palette of colors. He was showing off His mastery of colors and i was His captivated audience.


(*the asterisk after Master Painter and the pronouns alluding to Him is because i always write in all lower case as part of my branding. however, as a man of faith, i will always capitalize when using names that reference God and Jesus.)



soon, the vibrant display of red began to fade. it wouldn’t be long before darkness would completely show up in its familiar role as the night sentinel. the glow of the glass conservatory became more prominent as the darkness descended. the mosquitos began to announce its unwelcome arrival as i had not sprayed for protection against them. it was time to call it a night before i was completely drained as their food source. but what an awesome time it was! this color explosion may become a distant memory over time, but the images made will always be there as a reminder of the grand show i was privileged to be a spectator to!


that’s it for this blog folks! i’d love to hear any thoughts or comments you might have regarding this blog and the accompanying images. do you have a favorite between the two? if so, which one and why? i’m always curious to hear what you think. perhaps, with the first image, you have a leaning toward one of the two contrasting ambiences presented. i’d also like to hear your thought on that if you have any you’d like to share!


these images are for sale if you find yourself drawn to one or both. they would make a great addition to your home and/or business or for that special someone in your life. send me a message using the contact form below and i’ll help you bring to fruition a wall art piece that will be a visual treat for all who see it!


as always, i appreciate your support through your engagement with me as a reader! please feel free to share this blog with others you think or know would enjoy reading it. Simply copy and paste the url address into the media of your choice. you can also click on the icons below and share that way as well.


take care and i will be back to share with you more “images from a quiet world”!


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