Blue hour photography is a kind of outdoor photography that, over the years, has seen a lot of advancement in both techniques, style, and instruments. Many people now appreciate the glitz and color that this simple yet exciting field of photography offers art lovers.
Blue hour photography is a “blue hour” characterized by the time and conditions at which the shots are taken. Shots on blue hour photography are taken when the sun hasn’t yet risen, but the landscapes are clearly visible while the night has completely passed. Photographers are encouraged to decrease the shutter speed for moments like this gradually.
Since the light changes almost every minute, every shot before being taken must be well prepared. Otherwise, you won’t get the right exposure. Let’s take a proper look at blue hour photography.
- 1 What is the Blue Hour in Photography?
- 2 What Camera to Use for a Blue Hour?
- 3 What Lens Should I Use for Blue Hour Photography?
- 4 What Camera Settings to Use for a Blue Hour?
- 5 What Accessories Do You Need for Blue Hour Photography?
- 6 What is Considered Blue Hour Photography?
- 7 What is the Difference Between the Blue Hour and the Golden Hour?
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 9 Conclusion
What is the Blue Hour in Photography?
Blue hour simply has to do with timing. It is a specific time of the day that happens twice a day, every year.
90% of countries experience this, with the remaining 10% being countries close to the earth’s poles. The blue hour periods are the pre-rising moment of the sun just after it has set in the evening.
Recognizing photos taken during blue hour moments is not so difficult, as they characteristically have a blue-ish hue spread across the shot, regardless of where the shot was done.
If cityscapes are what you’re shooting, you would most likely have a beautiful dark blue sky with just the first few city lights coming on.
For wildlife, you’ll typically observe a blue cast on the animal. For countries closer to the earth pole, during winter and summer, they may experience only one blue hour a day, or none at all.
To capture the blue hour window in all its glam, you should start shooting about 1 to 50 minutes to capture the beginning of the blue hour because this is when the magic happens, and the entire scene is covered with those captivating blue tones.
What Camera to Use for a Blue Hour?
Your best shot at getting the perfect blue hour image you desire is a DSLR camera or a mirrorless one.
Those with higher ISOs will allow you more flexibility and more extensive range in situations where the shooting space seems very dark.
Here is why DSLR and mirrorless cameras are great for blue hour shots
01. Lens option
DSLR brands like Nikon, Pentax, and Canon provide you everything, ranging from 800mm telephoto to 12mm-24mm lens wide angles.
With an extensive range of lens options like this, you have many alternatives to suit your photography taste or match your fantasies.
02. Speed shooting
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III DSLR shoots at 16 fps. It does this, flipping its mirror every time.
If you lock up the mirror and employ an electronic shutter, the speeds can be increased to about 20fps.
Mirrorless cameras, as a standard, shoot at 20 or 30 fps too.
With a shutter speed like this, you would inevitably have a less stressful shooting period compared to what is obtainable from many other camera types.
DSLR cameras are the ones to run to if you want absolute precision and quality in autofocus.
Mirrorless technology, however, is beginning to outperform them here. Nonetheless, the two cameras remain at the top of the game.
With mirrorless cameras offering more focus and points situated closer to the camera frame, this feature is particularly useful when shooting in low light.
It also has a silent shooting ability, making it an excellent choice for blue hour photography.
What Lens Should I Use for Blue Hour Photography?
Depending on your shooting, a city and landscape wide-angle lens afford you the luxury of getting more of the shooting scenes.
You don’t have to bother so much about the capabilities of large apertures, as all you have to do is balance the ISO with the exposure time.
If you need sharpness throughout the shot, you need a prime lens of between 16 and 75mm. Nonetheless, zoom lenses that can cover this range will also suffice.
What Camera Settings to Use for a Blue Hour?
The secret to making astounding blue hour photography is balancing ISO, shutter speed, and aperture and knowing how and when to apply them in your shooting.
Good knowledge of this will create a sharp, crisp shot. Let’s look at them briefly.
01. Camera mode
To get an excellent picture output, you must rightly control the aperture, ISO, and shutter.
When you shoot in RAW, you can capture as much detail as needed. This will also allow you more latitude to raise the shadows and lower the highlight during post-processing.
03. Shutter speed
For light rails in motion, the shutter will need to stay open for the entire period the light will move past your shot.
If you’re photographing buildings lit up in light scenes, longer shutter speeds will translate to using a smaller aperture combined with a lower ISO. This will make your shot less grainy and sharper.
The bigger the aperture, the more light that is let in. This is important if the scene you’re shooting in has very little light.
This is, however, different for cityscapes, where there is enough light from vehicles, street lamps, and buildings.
Here, you would need a smaller aperture to get the scene better focused.
You may also be able to capture in the shooting a starburst effect when individual light origins pass through the lens prisms.
Setting your ISO to a low one like 100 in the early moments of the blue hour and using longer exposures would let in just the right amount of light.
As it gets darker, you will need to increase your ISO to ensure the exposure length doesn’t cause the highlights to get blown.
Light levels change rapidly during blue hours, and multiple light sources in an urban scene suggest experimenting with your ISO and adjusting it accordingly.
This also applies to your aperture and shutter speed. With this, you’ve set yourself on course to capture the most mind-blowing blue hour shots.
What Accessories Do You Need for Blue Hour Photography?
It would help if you had a tripod to hold the camera in the position since a huge part of your shooting would involve long exposures.
A heavy tripod would serve you better in windy conditions, but a lighter one will be easier to move around.
02. Camera bean bag
Camera bean bags are an alternative to tripods. Even though they don’t allow you to control your shots as a tripod would, they serve well, being that they’re light and allow the photographer to use flat surfaces on a rocky outcrop to a great effect.
03. Remote shutter release
If you’re dealing with longer exposures, certain levels of wobble can impact the resulting image.
This can be controlled using a remote shutter release, which would then remove the need to touch the camera’s body while the exposure is going on.
Stopwatches are helpful when shooting at blue hour, especially if you aim to capture long exposures with your camera’s Bulb mode.
The stopwatch would help you keep track of the time that has elapsed (in seconds) since the shutter release button was pressed.
While light is not particularly part of ideal camera equipment, it is still recommended that you go with one.
Whether heading out at pre-sunrise or sunset, you’ll most likely be in the location when it’s dark. You can find the ideal subject and focus on what you need to work around with good light.
Many photographers agree there is no particular kind of lens that works best during the blue hour.
However, since you’ll be shooting in low light conditions, good advice is to choose one with a bright lens with an aperture of about f/2.8.
This would enable you to work with a shutter speed that’s fast enough. This is of utmost benefit if you’re going to be shooting handheld.
If you’re using a tripod to shoot, you can reduce your aperture to say f/8 to give you more depth of field, hence, a sharper image.
What is Considered Blue Hour Photography?
Pictures that are considered blue hour pictures are pictures taken in a window period of the day before sunrise and after sunset. During this period, the atmosphere often has a deep blue color.
Like the popular golden hour, the blue hour isn’t exactly an hour. The precise length depends on the latitude of your location, what time of the year it is, and the weather conditions.
What matters is that the sun has to be considerably beneath the horizon. Also, many sunset colors can’t be present in the sky at the moment.
Blue hour stays longer than how a lot of people think it does.
Here are a few tips for a great blue hour photography session
01. Arrive early
This is seriously an important factor if you want to have a great shooting time. One of the reasons is that the best compositions are found when you’re at the scene early enough.
You will have enough time to scout the scene when you arrive early. This way, you can find a good foreground.
To set up your shooting equipment, you must be in the venue early. It may seem easy to set up your camera equipment, but you realize it’s already eating into your shooting time a few minutes into it.
02. RAW modes are awesome
Shooting in RAW is greatly beneficial if you’re doing post-production editing and other adjustments.
This is because blue hour shots usually require a good amount of time spent on post-production editing. Hence, a good reason why you should try your shots in RAW or RAW+JPEG.
03. Try multiple exposures
In many blue hour shots, one has to deal with the highlights coming from the sky as a result of the sun’s rising or its setting. This contrasts the shadow present due to the lack of a good light source.
What is the Difference Between the Blue Hour and the Golden Hour?
The terms golden hour and blue hours primarily deal with the timing and color display and contrasts of the sky with the sun’s motion.
Golden hours are moments just after sunrise and prior to sunset when the entire scene of the sky glows in warm orange color.
Blue hours, on the other hand, are moments shortly before sunrise and just after sunset when the sun’s location is beneath the horizon.
At this time, the sky is still lit brightly, and often a gorgeous blue if it’s clear.
It is crucial to note that both the golden and blue hours don’t in practice last an hour. Their appearance depends on how far above or below the sun is on the horizon.
They are also both pretty dependent on the weather. If the day is overcast, the sky will get grayer as the sun sets and less gray as it rises. In the absence of clouds, you may notice a faint orange hue.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What time is best for capturing the golden hour?
The time of the golden hour depends on where you’re geographically located and the weather condition.
So, different outdoor photographers have different times of shooting the golden hour. Good practice, however, is to be early to have enough time to set up.
What types of pictures should I take during golden hour?
Blue hour is suited better for landscape photography than any other kind. It combines colors, long exposures, and many other things from the photographer’s playbook.
You can incorporate some subjects that are also human-made, like houses or running water, into the shot.
How do I reduce blur in a DSLR lens?
Using a DSLR lens often comes with the risk of camera vibration from your shutter.
While this isn’t technically an issue, it can lead to a less-sharp image when you’re shooting at slower shutter speeds.
This can be fixed by locking up the mirror such that when you press the shutter button, there’ll be little or no shifting.
You have now been exposed to how to harness blue photography to create awesome, attention-grabbing shots.
As a final suggestion, you need higher compression for a better image outlook for portraiture. Every other thing you need to make a great blue hour photograph is right up in this article. Have fun!