You really feel like a rock star when you learn the “Blue Hour” technique for creating photo magic after dark. It is not very difficult. These few considerations will get you on your way.
We’ve just finished our first photo tour of the year with a small group of dedicated photographers in the Netherlands. Just about every evening and one very early morning we were able to produce beautiful images during the magical Blue Hour. This is an easy photographic technique that produces stunning results. Follow along and give it a try. A tripod and familiarity with shooting in “manual” are all you need. Here is the “recipe.”
- The optimal time for getting the best balance of artificial and ambient light is between 30 and 45 minutes after sunset or 45 to 30 minutes before sunrise. This can vary depending on the latitude and in which direction you are pointing your camera.
- A tripod is essential.
- Look for scenes with some kind of warm artificial light to balance and compliment the blue ambient light of the sky. During the day when you are out exploring train yourself to look for interesting blue hour compositions and artificial light sources that will illuminate the scene at night. Many tourist attractions are illuminated at night.
- Small direct light sources pointing toward your camera can be great, especially if you stop your lens down to f16 to create a starburst effect. Check your captured images on your LCD to make sure you are not getting unsightly flare from direct light sources. You can clone out some flare in post-processing. The further away those direct light sources are the more starburst effect you will get and the less flare and unsightly blasted-out blobs of light.
- Use a cable/shutter release.
- Avoid underexposing as you will have a lot of noise in your dark shadows. Bring your exposure up so that your highlights are not washed out. Don’t worry about small direct light sources like street lamps as those will always be washed out unless you do a separate exposure for them and blend them into the scene in Photoshop. That is a whole different topic, Exposure Blending.
- Adjust your ISO higher if your exposure needs more than 30 seconds. Remember that at the higher ISOs, you will get more noise in your images.
For this early morning Blue Hour in Venice we get up at 4 am so that we have San Marco Square all to ourselves (except for the occasional other photographers). We are then not only rewarded with beautiful images but also our first delicious cappuccino of the day.
Have fun creating photo magic after dark and unleash your inner shooting star!
We’d be happy to guide you through this Blue Hour recipe and take you to stunning photo locations in 2024. We’d love to have you come along on one or more of our exciting photo adventures and it’s not too early to sign up and reserve your spot. Check out all the wonderful places we’ll be photographing in 2024 by clicking here.»
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|Jim and Magrit have been photographing professionally and traveling in Europe for the past 20 years.|
They started Photography Travel Tours in 2011 with the goal of educating and guiding photographers to some of the most beautiful and iconic scenes in Europe.
The tours are not just about getting great photographs but also have the side benefits of doing so in wonderful environments. Great food, wine, people, and ambiance.
Read more about Jim & Magrit and their wonderful photo tours here: (http://photographytraveltours.com/about/).
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.