Theme: Blue Hour
My favourite time of the day to take photographs, the blue hour at the end of each day is perfect for soft light and rich colours.
The blue hour occurs around sunset and usually lasts for about 30 minutes to an hour depending upon where you live. It refers to the atmospheric lighting effects created when the sun sets below the horizon, yet, still reflects enough light to softly illuminate what remains above the horizon. Without direct rays of sunlight, the effect is a beautiful soft light that creates beautiful colours.
As the sun continues to set deeper below the horizon, the light further diminishes, but the colour of the sky intensifies to deep, beautiful blues and finally blue-blacks.
You don’t see these perfect blue sky tones at any other time of the day and they make a perfect backdrop for any photographic subject. You will see the most variations in colour between the sky closest to the western horizon and the sky directly above you. If you’re a star gazer, you will most likely be able to spot the first star of the night.
The later it gets, the darker the blue becomes with less tonal variations in colour, leaving you with an even more spectacular background. But you need to be quick, because this light doesn’t last longer than a few minutes.
Depending upon your shooting location, you will usually find artificial light sources appearing- street light, neon signs, etc and they are very useful for adding context to your images. For example the image below would be very limited without the city lights to brighten the foreground.
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If you want rich sky tones, the blue hour is the perfect time of the day for you. These tips will help you on your way;
The blue hour is only possible with clear skies, so if it’s cloudy, unfortunately, you may have to wait for another day.
Everything happens quickly at sunset so you need to be prepared for your shoot well in advance. Know the location you want, have some shots planned in your mind or in your sketchbook. It pays to have your camera & tripod set up as well because there is no time to fiddle about as the light fades.
Try out different angles and viewpoints to best capture your subject and the night sky behind it.
Lighting conditions change quickly at this time so you will need to compensate quickly by opening your aperture, slowing down your shutter speed and increasing your ISO as the light fades.
Artificial lights are great to include before your shot gets really dark.