The Blue Hour
The Blue Hour happens twice a day at twilight, when it’s not quite full daylight or dark of night. I often like this period much better than the Magic Hour that so many photographers discuss. It’s that moment when you have cool light in the sky and warm lights from buildings to create color contrast. If I’m going to shoot something for a sunrise or sunset photo, I think that most of my keepers happen in the blue hour — when the sun is below the horizon line. Of course, that really hurts for sunrise because it can start 45 minutes before the actual sunrise. Sucks for people like me who prefer to sleep late.
Aside from the part about getting out of bed for the pre-dawn opportunity, there’s only one thing about the blue hour that bugs me. You don’t get an hour. Someone lied when they made up this name. Instead of calling it the blue hour, they should call it the blue moment. You may have a couple of minutes of this perfect light and then it’s over. The sun keeps moving and stealing away that cool glow on the horizon.
There are even apps on the iTunes Store to calculate the blue hour at your location (or the golden hour). I just don’t get that, though. You can easily get sunrise and sunset times for free. You figure the blue hour is before sunrise and after sunset. Do you really need an app for that? No, of course not. If you have a scene that you want to photograph at a beautiful time of day, you should be there before it gets beautiful and patiently wait. Click some shots, check your composition. Find things that you didn’t expect and shoot them as you wait for the light to be just perfect.
There have been many times when I’ve watched the light change from dull to absolutely perfect in a moment, and then back to dull. My point is that you never know exactly when you’re going to have the best light, so plan on being there for all of it. If you’re shooting a sunset, don’t run away just because that big ball of fire crossed the horizon. There’s still beautiful light to come. Wait around and see what you get. As long as there’s light, there are opportunities to shoot. Enjoy those moments.