What Is The Blue Hour?

There is no question that certain parts of the day have better lighting than others when it comes to photography.  As the angle of the sun changes so to does the lights hue.  Different times of the day different types of light, the golden hour, the blue hour, twilight, etc..  The blue hour is also sometimes called the “sweet light” by photographers…  Well, that’s what Wikipedia says, I’ve never heard anyone call it that but I’m told that if it’s on the internet it must be true.  Either way, I get it, the light is pretty sweet.

The blue hour is the period of twilight each morning and evening when the sun is a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. This effect is caused by the relative diffusability of short blue wavelengths of light versus the longer red wavelengths.

0714_untitled_001-5The hour after sunset, or blue hour, really does look blue.  Your images will have this same blue hue without adjusting the white balance or HSL sliders.

Blue hour is ideal for city or urban photography as the buildings are still visible and contrast nicely with the darkening blue sky while the city lights start to turn on and create reflections and star-bursts.  Landscape and moon photography also look stunning during the blue hour.

The photograph at the top of the page, Lake Georgy, N.Y., was taken with the Nikon Df , the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G. The settings were ISO 100, 35mm, f/16, 3 seconds in combination with the B&W B+W 77mm ND Neutral Density 3.0-1 000X MRC 110M Lens Filter.

The second photograph, also of Lake George in N.Y., was taken with the Nikon Df and the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. The settings were ISO 100, 85mm, f/4.5, 15 seconds.

Blue hour photography is the same as any other low light photography, you aren’t idiots and I won’t treat like ones by telling you to use a tripod…  That’s like reminding you to breathe.  Don’t be afraid to increase your ISO if needed, newer cameras can handle up to ISO 6400 without too much loss of detail.  Choose whichever lens you’d like – zoom, prime, short, long, it doesn’t matter.  Enjoy!

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