Thursday, May 9, 2019

Review of Photographing the St. Louis Arch at Night

St. Louis Arch at Sunset photo by mbgphoto

I have photographed the St. Louis Arch at sunrise, in the morning and during the day but I had never photographed it at sunset and beyond.  When our photography club decided to take a trip across the Mississippi and photograph the Arch from a park on the east side of the river I was ready to go.  I wasn't sure what I was expecting but when we got there I saw this platform that provided a great overlook to photograph the Arch and the riverfront.

The photos below show the ramp and members of our group lined up at the top of the platform eagerly awaiting the sun to set.
photography platform in St Louis

Photographers in St. Louis

Tips for Nighttime Photography

  • Use a tripod...this will help eliminate camera shake in the low light.  This is particularly important once the sun has set.
  • Don't put the horizon in the middle of the photo.  Try getting it somewhere in the bottom third of the photo.
  • Shoot in aperture priority when the sun is still up and switch to manual once the sun sets.
  • Stay longer ( check next paragraph for reason why).
  • Try changing white balance to shade setting for more stunning colors.
  •  Wait for night clouds.  A partly cloudy sky is the best for sunsets.
  • Watch for birds.  They can add interest to the photo.
St. Louis Arch at Sunset photo by mbgphoto
Sunset in St. Louis
Search tips for night photography online and you will find a wealth of information.  The tips above are a few that I thought were particularly good.

Staying after Sunset

When I am photographing in the evening, I see many photographers wait till sunset, take their photos, and then pack up and leave.  If they do they will miss the beauty of the special lighting that often happens 20-30 minutes after sunset.  

Right after sunset you will see some really pretty colors in the sky.  
St. Louis Arch at Sunset photo by mbgphoto
You will note in this photo, taken about 5 minutes after sunset that the sky has some pretty pinks and yellow's to it.  On some evenings this can be even more pronounced, but I still think it was pretty in the photo above.

If you wait till all the colors have gone in the sky, you will then get to the "Blue Hour" where the sky turns a beautiful dark blue.  Many people miss this because they are in too big a hurry to wait.  It is definitely their loss.  I have seen times where there is only a slight darkening of the blue and other times where it is a fantastic deep blue.  It is worth waiting to see what the evening will bring.

In the case of the arch taken from the east, I also wanted to wait till all the lights were on in the buildings around the arch.  The arch is usually lit up but at this time of year those lights were turned off so they didn't interfere with the migration of birds.  Although I would have liked to see the lights on the arch, I will have to save that for another trip and I do believe it made the other lights on the city appear even brighter.  This photo was taken 25  minutes after sunset.
St. Louis Arch at Sunset photo by mbgphoto

See More on the St. Louis Arch

Here is a Review This post on the Arch showing photography at sunrise and during the daytime.

St. Louis Arch on Zazzle

I have made several of my Arch photos into Zazzle products.  Here are a few and you may find more in my zazzle store at Mbgphoto on Zazzle

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. As always, your photos are beautiful Mary Beth! I love the gorgeous colors of the sky. That time right after the sun has set, when the skies are a palette of pinks, purples & blues, is my favorite time of the day. I always feel like God has painted us a gorgeous picture in the sky and all we have to do is slow down and look. Someday, I expect to see Jesus there.

    By the way, I like the unlit Arch. It makes such a pretty silhouette effect with the building lights in the background.

  2. Stunning photos! I think that blue you talk about getting after the sunset, is probably my most favorite!

  3. Wonderful tips. Sometimes I'm late to the actual sunset, but I usually make it in time for all the clouds changing color after the sun dips below the horizon. Sometimes all I get is that deep blue sky you mentioned, which sometimes frames the moon. I always appreciate your photos and tips.

  4. Gorgeous photos, as always. You (and your photography group) always find unique settings for your photos. I have seen the arch shown from across the river on TV taken by cameramen working a Cardinals game as a background shot. I'll bet those cameramen use the same spot you did to take these photos.

    BTW, I was just in St. Louis last week, visiting my daughter. Came in on I-70 from Kansas City and took it all the way to I-55 South, so got a view of the St. Louis Arch as I approached the river. Always a delight to see.

    Your Zazzle products are beautiful with your Arch photos.

  5. Sunsets are the best. I find though that the colors I get are never as rich as what my eyes have seen and that is really too bad. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. Thanks!

  6. Excellent tips. Really love that deep blue image. I have also found that if I face the direction opposite the sunset, or sunrise, sometimes I find surprising colors and images (equal or better than the one I thought I would find by facing directly into the sunset or sunrise. I didn't expect that the first time it happened. You have so many wonderful photo moments. Beautiful!

    1. Thanks for the tip about looking the opposite way. I will definitely try that next time. Thanks for your comments too.


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