There’s a very short and valuable time-slot at the end of Magic Hour used by architectural photographers
If you feel a bit rushed coping with Magic Hour, just wait until the end of it for the shortest predictable light known to photographers. This is Blue Evening Light, when the sky becomes a rich deep blue, yet still short of black night. If you use it in combination with regular tungsten-lit exteriors or interiors, it delivers a wonderful backdrop and contrast.
This time of day is beloved of architectural photographers and those who photograph hotels and resorts, for two reasons. One is that there’s a natural colour complement between the blue of the sky and the orange of the artificial lighting that is automatically pleasing. The other is that the semi-darkness acts like theatrical make-up to conceal blemishes and distractions in even poorly finished buildings. The problem is that it lasts for minutes only, and creeps up on you almost unawares. Even when you are prepared for it, having chosen your viewpoint and tidied the scene up in front of you, your eyes’ clever adaptation to the slowly failing light can give you a different perception from what the camera sees.
A good rule of thumb is to start paying attention about half an hour after sunset in mid-latitudes, and then begin to use Live View and take some test shots to look at the balance of colours. Use either your camera’s Auto mode to cope with the changing light levels, or Manual mode with plenty of wide bracketing. For the richest blue, shoot away from or at right angles to the last remains of the sunset.
A resort on Lake Yangzonghai in Yunnan, China. As darkness falls, the balance of light intensity shifts from the sky towards the artificial tungsten lights The point at which the deep blue of dusk and the warm orange of tungsten are balanced may only last a few minutes
Here you can see why the shot at the top right works so well: the orange of the tungsten bulbs perfectly complements the deep blue of dusk, before darkness falls completely