You’ve no doubt heard about Golden Hour, that special time just after sunrise and before sunset when the world takes on a soft, golden glow. But what about Blue Hour? Learn all about this lesser-known but equally magical time of day below.

WHAT IS BLUE HOUR?

Blue Hour refers to the period of twilight when the sun sits just below the horizon. The sky takes on a creamy, deep blue hue and reflects shades of orange, yellow, purple, and pink. Photos shot during Blue Hour have a cool temperature and mystical quality.

WHEN IS BLUE HOUR?

Like Golden Hour, Blue Hour occurs twice a day: once in the morning before the sun rises and another in the evening after the sun sets. And though it’s called Blue “Hour,” the velvety cerulean lighting only lasts about 20 or 40 minutes depending on your geographical location and the time of year. Cloudy conditions can cut Blue Hour even shorter.

Pro Tip: Use Blue Hour Site to calculate when Blue Hour will occur at your exact location. Get into place early so you don’t waste any precious moments making composition or perspective decisions.

HOW TO SHOOT DURING BLUE HOUR



ISO & Aperture

Many cameras have contrast detection autofocus, these cameras will have a hard time finding something to focus on in the low light of Blue Hour. Setting a medium to narrow aperture (F5.6-F11) will keep more of the shot in focus, while keeping your ISO nice and low (100-200) will reduce noise.

Pro Tip: Use a tripod as you’ll need a very long exposure to narrow your aperture and keep your ISO at 100 in this light.

Shutter Speed

You’ll need to use slow shutter speeds (1 second-1 minute) to capture extra light as the sky grows darker. Unfortunately, slow shutter speeds can lead to camera shake and motion blur; but if you have a camera with built-in in-body image stabilization, most camera motions can be corrected when hand holding longer exposures.

Pro Tip: For extra-long exposures, use a tripod to ensure stability and prevent movement and blurriness.

1/8 sec | F8 | ISO800

shadow

1/80 sec | F8 | ISO1600

3 TRAVEL SCENES THAT LOOK BEST DURING BLUE HOUR

1 CITIES

Urban areas are filled with orange-tinged artificial lighting, which provides contrast to the blue sky. Make your shot more dynamic by creating traffic light trails. If you own an Olympus camera, the Live Composite function will help you capture lights in one crisp shot by combining a series of images continuously using the same exposure time.

1/4 sec | F8 | ISO2000

2 BEACHES

Blue Hour pulls out the vibrancy of seascapes. Focus on the way light reflects off the water. Whether it’s the moon or a nearby lighthouse, the illumination will look softly blurred and beautiful.

1/200 sec | F8 | ISO200

Cameras render tones differently than your eyes do – especially when you shoot with long exposure times. So long as you choose your settings correctly, your Blue Hour photos will be even more impressive than what you see in real life.