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Overlooking The Alchemist on Salford Quays during golden hour

News ‘Hours’ of predictability – the beauty of the still image

15 May 2017 Kate

Time-lapse is often associated with movement. Consisting of photographs taken at regular intervals, when played in sequence time-lapse enables even the subtlest of movements to appear more pronounced.

What can perhaps be overlooked, however, is the beauty that is contained in the individual still image.

With camera systems that may be set up to process images continuously at the same time every day, every week, every year, there is a consistency that can be counted on. While predictability can sometimes be monotonous, when focusing on the specifics of timing and lighting in relation to the individual image, stunning compositions are to be guaranteed.

Predictable magic – the golden hour

With the sun rising and falling at predictable times each day throughout the year, certain patterns of colour, light, and tone can be expected.

One of the most favourable, if not the most rewarding examples of this is known among photographers as the ‘golden hour’, or sometimes as the ‘magic hour’. Recurring twice each day, golden hour refers to the period shortly after sunrise and the period shortly before sunset.

Notably, the term ‘hour’ is only used figuratively here as there is no way of clearly discerning its duration other than by the position of the sun in relation to the horizon. This duration also varies from season to season.

When nearer to the horizon, sunlight travels through a greater depth of atmosphere which reduces the ratio between direct and indirect light.

At this point, more blue light is scattered, and with the presence of the sun, its light appears more warm and red in hue. The sun’s positioning at this time also produces longer shadows, which combined with these other elements, make for some striking photographic compositions.

The beauty of the predictable experience


Watching the sunset from Cafe Mambo, Ibiza.

Above: the sun setting along the sunset strip, Ibiza.

The ‘magic’ of these moments are truly stunning when captured on camera, but the beauty of golden hour can also be experienced as a kind of event.

Café Mambo, situated along what is now known as the sunset strip in Ibiza, attracts large crowds every evening during peak periods for this very purpose. This location is so famous, in part, because of its ample positioning next to the water.

Tiered seating leading down on to the beach along with chilling music, food, and drink, is a perfect spot to enjoy the setting of the sun. The atmosphere is truly something quite spectacular, which in a sense can be contained indefinitely within the photographic representations of these moments.

Atmospheric mystery – the blue hour

The position of the sun below the horizon is equally as notable for its atmospheric qualities of light and romantic connotations.

‘Blue hour’ refers to the period of twilight before sun rise and the dusk after it sets resulting in the indirect sunlight taking on a predominantly blue hue.

Construction scene in Manchester during blue hour

Above: blue hour in Manchester, UK

Treasured by artists, this particular period of time (approximately 40 minutes) has been used in other mediums, such as film. Terrence Malick’s 2005 romantic historical drama The New World, for example, was shot entirely during blue hour.

There are, of course, many more books, films, and other popular cultural artefacts which take their name from this remarkable quality of light – including a women’s fragrance of the same name by the French company Guerlain.

Also in France, ‘l’heure bleue’ is characterised by a sense of confusion and mystery, as it is often impossible to distinguish between night and day during blue hour.

Professional PR

Time-lapse is also effective during these periods of atmospheric light, particularly when capturing a cityscape, as the patterns of light from street lamps and car headlights add extra movements of colour to an already inviting vista.

As we have documented extensively in several of our previous blogs, time-lapse provides an immersive, interactive and truly timeless approach to brand management.

Tailoring the service to the specific needs of any given project, professional time-lapse providers ensure that the finished product reflects you and your business.

Also perfect for a multimedia age, the usability of time-lapse is varied and adaptable, easily shared online across multiple sites.


Another perk of a professional service is a dedicated online viewer that may be populated with HD still images from the time-lapse camera. As well as allowing providers to remotely control and closely monitor the view from the camera system via secure networks, the clients themselves can have access to these images.

In addition to practical purposes to keep on track of a project’s progress, online viewing portals of this kind provide clients with the means to publicise this progress as it happens.

Predictable but sometimes perfect

Individual still images communicate progress instantly; equally, when using images captured with a certain period of time or activity between them – in a kind of then/ now format – progress is easily visualised.

As explored in this blog, recurring periods known for their special quality of light – golden hour and blue hour – can work to your advantage from a marketing perspective.

Like time-lapse, the individual still image is adaptable and timeless, documenting particular ‘moments’ that can be used repeatedly and for years down the line. The presence and position of the sun can create striking images, even when capturing the ordinary and the everyday.

At this point in the year especially, when the days are drawn out much longer, there is plenty of scope for the light to fall ‘just right’.

And for camera systems that capture at regular intervals day in, day out, you’re bound to get that perfect shot without even having to click the shutter button yourself.

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