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Photography in the Brilliance of the Blue Hour

Photography in the Brilliance of the Blue Hour

The blue hour is perhaps the most underrated time of each day that only we photographers give due appreciation. Most people appreciate the sunrise and the sunset especially when they attempt to take photographs but for any photographer, the blue hour has an equal amount of charm with a totally different value. 

For photographers who like to shoot landscapes, cityscapes, and architecture, the blue hour is the best time to be shooting. This time of transition during the day gives us the most balanced lighting condition that makes it easier to photograph larger subjects and environments without any need for artificial lighting. That is why being able to plan and execute your photoshoot during this particular time of day is crucial. 

Blue Hour Phorography

No matter what kind of blue hour photography you aim to do, the most important step is planning your shot. Whether you are shooting landscapes, buildings, or portraits, it is important to know the specific time that the light changes and prepare for any possible challenges.

Blue hour photography deals with gradually changing sunlight as the sun rises or sets, as well as with the potential interaction of luminosity from the moon. When taking a photograph, it is important to consider both the sun's movement and the moon's position and face in order to ensure the best lighting for your subject and the surrounding environment.

Planning Your Blue Hour Photography

The Sun Moon Expert is the perfect mobile app to help you plan your shoot to make the most out of the blue hour. This app gives you the general details about the time of the next sunrise and sunset from your location via GPS as well as detailed steps in the transition of light. Astronomical, Nautical, and Civil Twilight, while all parts of the blue hour have different levels of brightness in the sky and can definitely give you different effects when shooting. The Sun Moon Expert app also offers information about these steps in detail to help you better prepare for your blue hour shoot. 

Moon Phases Screen Sun Moon Expert app

In addition to the importance of anticipating the changes in sunlight, the moon can also have an effect on the lighting environment that you are shooting. It is important to consider where the moon will be while you are shooting and consider how it is going to affect your shot and your subject.

The Sun Moon Expert app also gives detailed information about the moon such as the schedule of its phases as well as the time of the moon rise and moonset. In addition, the app puts all this information into perspective through augmented reality. This augmented reality mode utilizes the camera of your smartphone to show you where the sun and the moon will be at a particular time and show you the path towards which they will move as well. This is a great way to plan not just the time of your shot but as well as the composition and lighting of your blue hour shoot. 

Augmented Reality Screen of Sun Moon Expert App

Landscape Photography During the Blue Hour

Shooting natural wonders, no matter which part of the globe, can be tricky because of lighting conditions. The most common challenge for beginner landscape photographers is how to manage the difference in brightness between the sky and the landscape itself. This is why many photographers generally prefer to shoot towards the golden hour and the blue hour and use the mid-day hours to either rest or travel. 

The blue hour is characterized by the relatively dimmer light in the sky. Relatively, this makes the landscape brighter when it comes to how it would appear in our images. Ultimately, the less bright sky becomes easier to shoot because of the balance achieved with regard to the darker foreground. That is why the blue hour can be the best time to be shooting landscapes particularly when you have not mastered how to manage and manipulate light and exposure. 

Blue Hour Cityscapes 

Landscape photography in a natural location and landscapes in an urban location have a lot of similar factors. Undoubtedly, the biggest similarity is the ambient light coming from the sky and how it behaves. The biggest difference would of course be the presence of artificial light in a city that will definitely affect the overall exposure and balance of luminosity.

The lights coming from buildings, houses, and illuminated infrastructure all contribute to a collective glow coming from the ground. This only means that the point wherein the brightness of the sky and of the city comes relatively earlier in the sequence of the transition of light compared to when there is not artificial light from the foreground. This difference, when you are able to plan your shoot and shoot at the right time, is not a disadvantage but simply a small adjustment.

When dealing with a particularly active scene, this can even be used to enhance the photograph’s visual design by using motion from moving traffic and other moving elements to create attractive visual paths in the scene.

Blue Hour Cityscapes 

Blue Hour Architecture Photography

Very much similar to shooting cityscapes, there is a lot of advantage in shooting architecture during the blue hour. The timing and the balance of light is one of the easiest and most effective solutions to almost all the challenges in lighting when it comes to shooting architecture. It is likely that shooting (modern) architecture will require you to take artificial lighting and surrounding illuminated objects into account when shooting blue hour architecture photography in the same way that cityscapes deal with both ambient and artificial light.

For most modern cities and architecture, the blue hour is the best time to be shooting. During the blue hour, the sky and the city don’t only attain significant balance in luminosity but also commonly have complementing colors. The blue hue of the twilight sky perfectly matches the warm yellow or orange lights that are commonly found in many street lights and building exteriors. By being able to shoot at the right time before the sky gets too dark and being able to accurately portray the available colors, you can attain undeniably pleasant vibrance in the overall color harmony of your image. 

Shooting Methods for the Blue Hour

Whether shooting natural landscapes, cityscapes, or architecture during the blue hour, there are various exposure techniques that are necessary. For one, since you will be dealing with much less light than during the day, long exposure will definitely be a necessary method of shooting. The duration of your exposure would depend on how much ambient light there is and following that, your exposure will vary depending on the overall lighting environment of your location.

Shooting During the Blue Hour

Some instances require you to shoot with slow shutter speeds ranging from about 4 to 8 seconds. This is applicable when the sky still has considerable light and also when you are using a moving visual element to create a visual path. To do this seamlessly and safely, a good and reliable camera remote trigger not only spares you from the risk of camera shake but also makes your shooting process efficient. 

The MIOPS Smart+ is the industry leading camera remote trigger that goes above and beyond merely controlling your shutter button. For long exposure functions, you can set your exposure to up to 99 minutes and 99 seconds with the precision of up to 0.1 seconds. This is in addition to self timer delay and interval shooting functions with the same maximum limits.

 

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For shooting transient and moving visual elements, the Smart+ is also equipped with a laser sensor that is triggered by the moving object crossing the path. A light sensor that triggers exposures when strong flashes of light (coming from lightning strikes) occur, and a sound sensor that starts an exposure cued by loud sounds. 

Another method to consider during the blue hour to attain even better balance and colors when shooting is the use of HDR through shooting bracketed exposures. In this process, you can shoot 3, 5, 7, or even 9 consecutive exposures of the same frame with varying levels of brightness. By doing so, you can potentially harvest all the possible details that are best visible in each of these exposure levels and combined the exposures later on to precisely bring out all the details that you wish to show. This is applicable in all outdoor and indoor shooting scenarios and even easier to do during the blue hour. 

MIOPS offers a considerable line-up of smart camera triggers that all have features to automate your HDR shooting process. The three camera remote trigger variants give you full control of the number of exposures to take, the difference in brightness among each exposure, and even the time interval between each shot.

The MIOPS Remote Plus offers full control of the shooting process through seamless connection with the MIOPS mobile app. The MIOPS Smart+ works the same way but can also be set and controlled through its own LCD screen menu and on-board buttons. The MIOPS Flex extends these capabilities by showing you an instant preview of your HDR output (and even time-lapse sequences) through the app.

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Mastering landscape photography, cityscape photography, and architectural photography is best done during the blue hour. If you can get used to the changes in light and learn how to use them to your advantage, you'll not only take good photos now, but you'll also be prepared for future lighting challenges when shooting outdoors. With proper planning in terms of the timing and composition of your shoot, as well as meticulous execution, the blue hour will deliver you some of your best photographs no matter where you are and what you are shooting.