If you are a photographer, you must have seen hundreds of landscape photographs. Some photographs just grab our attention and we think what’s special in this picture. Well, there are many factors that make a good picture like composition, foreground elements, post-processing but the most important element is the lighting. Pictures that are clicked in the golden or blue hour, looks stunning. In this article, we will talk about the golden and blue hour and how to use it to make your landscape photos extraordinary.
What is a golden and blue hour?
Golden and blue hours are a particular time period that comes twice every day. In the morning just before the sunrise when the sky has different shades of blue and the light is cool, that is called blue hour. When the sun comes up and golden rays fall on everything and the sky becomes orange, that is a golden hour. At the time of golden hours, the light is very soft and warm. It’s the perfect time for landscape photography because everything looks warm and fresh.
In the evening when the sun is about to set, the sky becomes orange again and that’s the second golden hour of the day. When the sun sets and sky become blue, that’s blue hour again. Golden hour and blue hour lasts for 20-50 minutes and the word “hour” is just figurative.
You can download the MIOPS Golden Blue Hour Calculator Android App.
Effects of a golden and blue hour:
At the time of the blue hour, the light temperature becomes cool and the sky has various shades of blue. This time light is very soft because the whole sky becomes a big light source. If you are trying to shoot cityscapes or light trails, the blue hour is the best time for that. In nutshell, if you have artificial lights (building lights, street lights, lights of vehicles) in your frame, try to shoot in the blue hour.
When the sun comes at the horizon and the sky turns orange, it’s a golden hour. During golden hours light becomes warm and since the whole sky reflects the light, it becomes very soft and even, so it’s the best time for shooting landscape as well as portraits.
How to know the time of golden and blue hour?
The time and duration depend on many factors like your location, season and weather on that day. Fortunately, we have many websites and apps that give you time and duration of the golden and blue hour at any given location so you can plan accordingly. PhotoPills is a good app for photographers that not only tell about these magic hours but also give you many more options.
Ideas for blue hour photography:
2. Light trails
Ideas for golden hour photography:
2. Motion Blur
3. Reflection in a water body
5. Portraits and Kids
How to plan for golden and blue hour photography?
If you are planning to shoot during this time, you need to make some preparations.
1. Know the time in advance: First, decide the location and use an app or website to know the golden and blue hour time and duration. These apps tell about the weather too so you can plan accordingly.
2. Reach early: Reach at least 20-30 minutes before your shooting time so you can set your frame and do all the camera settings in advance.
3. Carry a tripod: In landscape photography, you need a deeper depth of field so you have to click with a narrow aperture and light is also low at that time so your shutter speed will be very slow. It’s a must to carry a tripod with you because you can’t take one-second exposure using your hands. Make sure you switched off the IS or VR feature on your lens when you are using your camera on a tripod.
4. Shutter release cable: Get a remote or shutter release cable with you so you don’t need to touch your camera and you can avoid the vibrations. If you don’t have shutter release cable, you can always use the timer function of your camera.
5. Mirror lock: If you are using a DSLR camera, it’s advisable to use mirror lock option to reduce vibrations during the click.
6. Have patience: Sometimes you make all the preparations in advance, you know that time and you reached accordingly, you have all essential gears with you but still you can’t take the picture due to bad weather or some other reason. Don’t become impatient. It can happen to anyone. If you miss the blue hour, try to shoot a different picture in the golden hour.
Now you know about the blue hour and golden hour, let’s wake up early for some days, take amazing pictures in this time add some more gems in your portfolio.
Related Article: 6 Tips for Better Landscape Photography
About the Author
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.