A bit of magic at Milton and South Congress

Hey Cupcake Trailer Closeup, SoCo - Austin, Texas

Hey Cupcake Trailer Closeup, SoCo – Austin, Texas

The corner of Milton Street and South Congress Avenue transforms itself into a magical place at a certain time of the day. It is one of my favorite spots to shoot and take in the atmosphere. On this corner, a silvery airstream sells cupcakes and a musician serenades the customers. When the sun sets and the sky turns a deep blue, for a few minutes the combination of warm lights, silvery reflections and the friendly Austin people make for really neat place to photograph.

I’ve shot here many times before, aways trying to time my image captures around the blue hour. I love those bare light bulbs, in series that adorns this small patch of ground. I frequently talk about the contrast between the blue and the man-made warm lights, the glow and reflections that can found at the right angles. All of these elements come together here when you time it right. And though the cup cakes may be tasty and the people friendly all the time, these magical images can only be made minutes after sunset.

Customers at Hey Cupcake Trailer #1, SoCo - Austin, Texas

Customers at Hey Cupcake Trailer #1, SoCo – Austin, Texas

Customers at Hey Cupcake Trailer #2, SoCo - Austin, Texas

Customers at Hey Cupcake Trailer #2, SoCo – Austin, Texas

I’ve talked about my recent South Congress photowalk several times in my recent postings (here, here and here) but the focus of this photowalk was the blue hour. And for the blue hour, I decide to shoot it here on this corner. The blue hour, in Central Texas, only lasts for at most, 15 minutes. About 10 minutes after sunset, the sky starts turning a vibrant blue and continues to darken as the minutes tick by. At some point after 15 minutes, the sky is more black than blue and you realize that another blue hour has slipped away. For this reason, you really don’t have the luxury to move around and photograph many things during this time. It helps to have an idea or place in mind and be ready before the color turns. But the blueness of the sky depend on the direction you face; it does not evenly turn to black. Shoot towards the west and you can eke out some great color for a bit longer.

Performance at Hey Cupcake, Soco - Austin, Texas

Performance at Hey Cupcake, Soco – Austin, Texas

I used my 14mm Panasonic Lumix lens for all but one. I also used the wide-angle adapter that attaches to 14mm for many of the images too. The EXIF data does not show the use of the wide-angle so I’m not a 100% sure on which images I used the adapter. You’ll think that it would be easy to distinguish between a 22mm equivalent and a 28mm but I seem to find it a challenge. I shot a bunch of images of the guitar player and this one that seem a bit soft but nicely dreamy. I used the 45mm f1.8 shot at 1/30 second at ISO 800 for this shot. Not the ideal conditions hand-held but I was happy I created a moody image.

Performer at Hey Cupcake, Soco - Austin, Texas

Performer at Hey Cupcake, Soco – Austin, Texas

Finally the last two images shows the scene toward the end of blue hour. You can tell because the electric blue has been replaced by a deeper, mature blue. The total elapsed time between the first and last image, 8 minutes. The peak color only lasts for a few minutes and I was facing east so the sky color darkened quicker. After this, I was off shooting other things, and no longer using the sky as a key element. I find that in most cases, a black sky is not nearly as interesting. Once this magical time passes, I change my subjects and concentrate of other things or I go to dinner like I did that night. Part of the group already headed to Wahoo’s for some fish tacos. I was going to meet them too but only after I squeeze the most out of my favorite blue hour.

Hey Cupcake Trailer Closeup #2, SoCo - Austin, Texas

Hey Cupcake Trailer Closeup #2, SoCo – Austin, Texas

Hey Cupcake at Blue Hour, SoCo - Austin, Texas

Hey Cupcake at Blue Hour, SoCo – Austin, Texas


Please make sure to click on the photographs to see a larger image and hover over the photos to see the exposure details.

On this photowalk, I used the Olympus E-P3 with the 14mm f2.5 lens. I also had a Olympus E-PL1 camera which costs about $150 with the Olympus 45mm f1.8. If you are thinking of buying this equipment, please click on these links. You will get the same low Amazon price and I’ll get a small commission, which helps support this site.

8 thoughts on “A bit of magic at Milton and South Congress

  1. That 45mm which I just love really did a smash up job on the musician. Gorgeous and I really like the highlight off the construction cone in the background. Now I must go find a cupcake!

  2. Funny how long twilight lasts in even slightly lower latitudes. Up here in New England, night really FALLS. When I lived in Israel, twilight lasted for a couple of hours. Even a couple of degrees makes a big difference. Love those sky colors! I’ll be in Virginia for the next week or so, so I hope I’ll have something to show for it.

    1. I’ve never researched the length of twilight in different locations, I’m sure it also has a lot to do with the time of year too at a given location.

  3. Yeah I also like that musician shot, and the 45mm is something I’ll surely get for myself as well (tho my wife has one). And I think Marilyn is right as well – in Malaysia for instance, darkness falls as well, while here in Europe it lasts quite some time…

    1. That makes sense. In the summer, the closer to the north pole, the longer the day is as well as, I imagine, the twilight time too. Of course, in the winter, it’s a very different story.

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