Blue hour photography
Blue hour is the time of day straight after golden hour as the sun sinks into the horizon, where the light transitions effortlessly from warm and golden to cool and blue. Although the colour temperature becomes much cooler, the light remains soft and directional, making it a great time to take pictures. The light at this time of day is particularly magical; in addition to the blue hues, there may be streaks of pink, purple and red in the sky. The ambient blue light can evoke a multitude of feelings such as serenity, nostalgia, melancholy, or even romance, making it a favourable time for taking visually interesting and emotive photos.
While there is a huge trend in golden hour photography at the moment, we think that blue hour photography is the best-kept secret. If you want unique photos to stand out in a sea of golden hour images, you have to try out blue hour photography.
If you’re interested in blue hour photography for beginners, the post will discuss the best techniques for taking blue hour photos. We will cover:
- Blue hour meaning
- Blue hour vs golden hour photography
- Blue hour photography tips
- Blue hour photography ideas
Blue hour meaning
Blue occurs twice a day, before the sun rises in the morning, and immediately after the sun sets in the evening. It is called ‘blue hour’ because this is the period before or after the golden hour (depending on when you shoot) where the light looks blue. Although it is referred to as the blue hour, this window of time is actually much shorter than an hour, with the blue light lasting from only 20-40 minutes. The length of the blue hour varies depending on your location and the season. Using the Photographer’s Ephemeris app, you can pinpoint the exact time of the blue hour in your location to plan for your shoot.
Blue hour vs golden hour photography
- As we mentioned, blue hour happens before the sunrise golden hour or after sunset golden hour. Like golden hour, the light is still soft and directional, making it a perfect time to take pictures.
- The blue hour light is cooler in colour temperature than golden hour, which is perfect if you’re going for a moodier feel.
- Golden hour light tends to evoke feelings of warmth and happiness, while blue hour light is suited for photography with more emotional nuance – think tranquillity, or even melancholy.
- Blue hour is short, perhaps even shorter than golden hour, which means the light falls rapidly, changing minute to minute. You need to act fast!
Blue hour photography tips
Here are some tips to help you take the best blue hour photos.
As blue hour is the perfect time to get a wide shot of your environment, keep the aperture reasonably narrow, preferably f/9 – f/14. As the light is falling at this time, your ISO should be around 100 or 200, but adjust according to the level of noise in your image. As it’s beginning to get fairly dark at this time, the shutter speed should be approximately 5 seconds to allow enough light into your camera. Experimentation is key. Because the light is falling quickly you may need to adjust your settings for the perfect exposure, but Aperture Priority Mode may come in handy here.
Auto white balance is a definite photography faux-pas in a blue hour situation. The vibrant blue hues will be dulled if you use AWB, so adjust it to around 6500K instead, to keep the colours vivid.
Use a reflector
If you’re taking portraits, we would recommend using a reflector as it’s beginning to get quite dark at this time, and your subject will have shadows on their face. Using a silver reflector will enhance the blue hues even more.
As we mentioned, the blue hour window only lasts around 20-40 minutes so you have to be snappy. Planning your shoot beforehand is a good idea to be as efficient as possible and get the shots you need.
Embrace the flaws
As a photographer one of the challenges of the work is adapting to the changes in the environment, but it’s also what makes it fun. In this situation, we recommend going with the flow and embracing the impromptu nature of blue hour. If you mess up and you don’t change the ISO, the noise might enhance your images by adding some aesthetic grain to your picture. If your camera shakes, the motion blur might enhance the moody feel of your photo. If the weather switches up suddenly, try to improvise and adapt, creating a different emotional tone in your photos.
Blue hour photography ideas
Blue hour casts a very flattering light, making it a good time for taking all kinds of photos.
- Portraits look great in blue hour, casting a magical blue glow on your subject. If you’re shooting couples portraits, blue light is still romantic, but more unique than golden hour.
- Travel photos will automatically look better at blue hour, especially if there is a beach or a body of water involved, creating a visually appealing dynamic of water meeting the blue sky.
- Landscape photos will look great at blue hour; open space reflects the blue light well and makes your environment stand out even more.
- Blue hour is especially apt for cityscape photos as the yellow glow from streetlights and buildings against the blue hues creates an interesting contrast.
- Blue hour is also a great time for silhouette photography.
We hope you found our beginners guide to blue hour photography useful!
If you would like a photographer to take photos for you at blue hour, book with Splento. At Splento, we provide you with experienced, reliable, on-demand photographers at an affordable rate. Contact us today to see how we can assist you.