As photographers, we are all familiar with the soft, beautiful hues that encapsulate our images during the golden hour. Although this period makes for stunning photographs, we often forget that alternative hours of the day can create just as, if not more inciting images.
If you’ve ever woken up before the sun or stood and watched as it set below the horizon, you have probably witnessed the sky transform into an awe-inspiring hue of blue. This deep, rich tone that paints the sky not only is a sight to see, but happens to be one of the most ideal hours for photography.
What is the Blue Hour?
A close cousin to our beloved golden hour is the blue hour. The blue hour is period of twilight that occurs either in the morning or evening. It is when the sun is situated below the horizon, creating a sky that is deep blue in color.
The color of the sky can range from blue to dark blue. If the blue hour occurs in the morning, then the sunrise will shift the blue hour into daytime. If the blue hour occurs in the evening, then the sunset will shift the blue hour into nighttime, creating a black sky.
The blue hour is noted as an ideal time to create photographs of your environment. This blue light that captures a landscape is an indication of an opportune moment to capture images especially of the moon. This is because during the blue hour, the moon’s glare is less bright in relation to the sky.
When Does the Blue Hour Occur?
The blue hour occurs during the time of day when the sun has just set or is on the verge of rising.
In fact, the blue hour never lasts the duration of 60 minutes, but instead is about a period of 20 to 30 minutes. The time in which the blue hour occurs depends on the time of year, weather forecast and where you are located in the world.
For example, let’s say you are located in a place where during the winter the sun rises at 8:30 a.m. and the sun sets at 5:30 p.m.
In this example, the blue hour would occur in the morning around 8:00 to 8:20 a.m. and in the evening around 5:40 to 6:00 p.m.
If the weather conditions include overcast skies or high-density of air quality, then the blue hour may not occur. If you are interested in determining the times of blue hour in your location, you can use the calculator on Blue Hour Site found here.
Capturing Images During the Blue Hour
The blue hour is a great time to capture images of landscapes, the surrounding environment and cityscapes. Because of the lack of natural light during this time of day, you will need to have a basic understanding of how to photograph a scene during the nighttime.
The best way to capture a nighttime, blue hour scenario is to utilize long exposures, setting up your camera on a tripod and adjusting your settings for a slow shutter speed. By doing this, you will allow as much light as possible to enter your camera’s sensor and lower the amount of shake that comes from holding your camera.
Photographing in the blue hour is all about capturing the rich tones and color vibrance of your setting. Consider infusing creative elements such as playing with the surrounding lights of passing cars, city lamps or even the gentle reflection of the moon in the sky.
To jumpstart your creative ideas, here are some examples of incredible blue hour photography to inspire your future images: