New Photographer’s Guide to Blue Hour photography

Blue Hour photography

Blue Hour is a lovely time to take photographs. Photographers love this period because they don't have to worry about harsh lighting or shadows. The effect of a blue hour can make your image seem out of this world.

If you have heard about Blue hour photography or even seen the products but never know how you can achieve it, this article will teach you everything you need to know about blue hour photography and how you can use this period to get awesome photographs.

What is Blue Hour Photography?

Blue hour is different from the golden hour. While golden hour occurs early in the morning, blue hour occurs twice in a day. It happens just before sunrise and immediately after sunset. Each blue hour lasts about twenty to forty minutes depending on the condition of the weather and of course, your geographical location.

What is known as a blue hour is the effect of the sky. During blue hour period, the sky turns different shades of blue and reflects yellow, orange, pink, and purple.

Blue Hour photography

Rules of Blue Hour Time

The following rule states when blue hour starts and when it ends and how you can take advantage of it.

1. To catch blue hour without stressing yourself, you can use a great website that tells you exactly when the blue hour is on your location. Check it Here

2. Sunrise: Blue hour usually starts 30 minutes before sunrise and reaches the peak just 10 minutes before the sunrise.

3. Sunset: Blue hour starts approximately 10 to 15 minutes after the sunset. Capturing blue hour during this time will give you an opportunity to set up your equipment before it starts.

4. The duration of a blue hour will be reduced in a situation where the sky is overcast. In some cases, a very dense cloud will wash out the blue hour completely.

Blue Hour photography

What You can Capture During Blue Hours

Blue hour is perfect for capturing:

  • Cityscapes
  • Landscapes
  • Scenic beaches
  • Wharfs
  • Bridges
  • A fair or circus
  • Marinas

Note that blue hour requires long exposures or slow shutter speed. This means you need time to set up your equipment.

Blue Hour photography

Equipment You Need for Blue Hour

Below is the list of things you need to capture Blue Hour:

  • DLSR - A quality DLSR is a must for blue hour
  • A stable tripod
  • Remote shutter release
  • Flashlight - in case you are setting up when it is still dark
  • A stopwatch - You need this to monitor the duration of shutter release in a situation where your DSLR fails to do that.
  • Lens Cleaning Cloth
  • A wide angle zoom lens

How to Shoot Blue Hour

The first thing you should do is to set up your equipment on a stable ground. Use a tripod to ensure that the camera is stable. Once you have achieved stability, the next thing is to compose your frame from the viewfinder. Make sure the camera is well aligned using a bubble level or electronic level that comes with your camera.

Avoid setting up directly under a source of bright light, this will cause lens flare. Now, the next thing to do is to look into the viewfinder and use the autofocus to lock focus on any bright objects in your frame. Once you've confirmed that focus has been locked, go ahead and put the focusing switch on your lens to manual focus. The aim of this is to stop the camera from re-focusing.

Once you've set up properly and focused as needed, set your aperture between f/8 and f/16. I will recommend setting your ISO between 100-200 and shooting in full manual mode so you can have the control of all the parameters.

Take your shots at different intervals during the Blue hour; this will help you use the best exposure during the post-processing of your image. Keep reviewing your shots to ensure they are correctly exposed for post-processing.

Blue Hour photography

Other factors to keep in mind:

1. Shoot in Shutter Priority Mode

The sky tends to be relatively dark during blue hour since the sun is still below the horizon. Therefore, there is a need for a long/slow shutter speed in order to allow in enough light. This will ensure that your image is properly exposed. When you have your camera in Shutter Priority mode, you can manually choose your shutter speed.

I will recommend using a shutter speed of one to six seconds.

2. Use a Tripod

Blue hour involves long exposure; this means that you are going to hold your camera for a long time. To ensure that your camera does not shake and your image is sharp, you will need a tripod. Using tripod will make your camera very stable and avoid camera shake. Your photos will be blurry if you hand hold your camera during a slow shutter speed because of camera shake.

3. Get a Remote Shutter Release

To ensure that you eliminate camera shake completely, you will need to get a remote to control shutter release. If you cannot get a shutter remote control, set your camera's self-timer to two seconds.

4. Shoot in RAW

RAW files allow you to do post-processing like you want. It is best to capture blue hour in RAW formation. Not only will this give you the highest quality capture but also allows you to edit as you want. You can adjust the exposure compensation during editing when you shoot in RAW. Moreover, the RAW format allows you to adjust your shots if they come out a little too dark or light.

You can still get good results when you shoot in JPEGs. Nonetheless, RAW still remains the best way to shoot.

5. Include Electric Lights

You will get a more beautiful result if your location is near electric lights. The effect of the electric lights will add drama to your photos and make it more interesting.

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