The golden hour is a popular time for photography as it is known to be the window of opportunity for capturing images with majestic golden and reddish hues. While that may be true, there exists another time of day that is equally incredible but less familiar to most people – blue hour. Unlike the golden hour, this refers to the darker stages of morning and evening twilight when the sun is far below the horizon.

With light being more diffused and even during this time, a cooler colour tone gets painted across the sky. It is the optimal time to shoot if you are looking to produce images with fantastic deep blue, pink or purple qualities.

And in case you haven’t heard, Canon PhotoMarathon XVI Singapore 2018 (CPMSG2018) is now open for registration, and there’ll be a twist this year! The third and final theme will be announced at 5pm instead of the usual 3pm. This gives you a chance to apply the tips provided in this article!

Scout for a good subject and location

Just like shooting a sunset, it is important to pick a good subject and location to shoot during the blue hour. Instead of simply shooting the sky, pick an eye-catching foreground for your image to hold the interest of your viewers.

Image Credit: @nathello

Image Credit: @benzhtan

Cityscapes are ideal subjects to shoot during the blue hour. As opposed to night shots where the sky is completely dark, subtle lighting from the sun during the blue hour adds dimension to the backdrop of urban cityscapes, by providing a beautiful hue. A tip is to look for a spot where you can view the skyline with no obstructions. The colours of the sky combined with the city’s artificial lights can lead to an outstanding image that holds its own.

Image Credit: @afiq_harris

Landscapes also make great subjects to shoot during the blue hour. Again, consider the foreground of your image. Whether it is a large tree, mountain, or a rocky coastline, your image is sure to stand out when placed before the magnificent blue sky. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the early moon rise.

Pay attention to camera settings

Generally speaking, it is best to shoot in manual mode during the blue hour as this gives you better exposure control. As light will be limited during this period, you will need a slow shutter speed of 1-6 seconds to let in the most light. If you have a tripod, set a small aperture of about f/7-f/10 for a wide depth of field and a low ISO at about 100-200 to obtain a clear, grain-free image.

For the highest quality capture, we also recommend shooting in RAW instead of JPEG. This gives you the best advantage as you will be able to experiment with the white balance during post-production.

Image Credit: @yk

Image Credit: @thinhduongsg 

Use a tripod

For a spectacular blue hour shot, be sure to use a tripod. This is so that you can shoot at a lower ISO than if you shoot it hand-held. With increased camera stability, your image will appear sharper and this also helps you frame your shot with higher accuracy.

Image Credit: @lightfactor92

Image Credit: @zhrent

To avoid blurry photos, another neat trick is to use a remote since pressing the shutter release button may cause the camera to move. Alternatively, you may want to set the camera’s self-timer to two seconds.

Time it right and be patient

Blue hour happens twice every day – once before sunrise and once after sunset. Contrary to its name, the blue hour generally only lasts between 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the weather and your geographical location. Thus, it is crucial to plan and get your timing just right.

Image Credit: @teojinhao 

Most photographers are easily content with their initial photos and tend to walk away before letting the blues intensify. Generally speaking, the colours get prettier as the sky gets darker. The last thing you want is to leave the scene before getting the best possible shot, so have fun and be patient! Keep shooting until the sky is all but pure darkness with not a hint of blue. This is when you can tell that blue hour has ended for sure.

Image Credit: @renezsg

Are you struck with inspiration after reading these tips? Perhaps it is time for you to pick up a camera and shoot during the blue hour at CPMSG2018. Click here to sign up now!

We look forward to seeing images with colours captured in an unworldly fashion. Feel free to share your photos with us by tagging #CanonSG!