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A guide to blue hour photography

If you’ve read our beginner’s guide to astrophotography, chances are you’re already equipped with the basic knowledge needed for taking pictures once the sun has gone down, and using your camera on manual mode. But why limit yourself to just those nights when the conditions are right for celestial shooting? There are plenty of other uses for your new-found skills and many unique situations to be captured. One in particular has a certain unique magic: the blue hour. 

What is the blue hour?

The so-called ‘blue hour’ is the period of time just after the sunset, around dusk when the sky takes on inky, indigo hues and before it becomes impenetrably black. The ‘hour’ is a bit of a misnomer because it depends what latitude on the earth you’re at as to how long it lasts. Nearer the equator there’s very little blue between sunset and darkness whereas towards the poles and during their respective summer times, the ‘hour’ can be seemingly endless. There’s also another blue hour just before dawn. It’s the perfect light to capture the movement and energy of cityscapes when buildings are illuminated, as well as seascapes and landforms in moonlight. 

Photographer’s guide to the blue hour: image of Oslo at dusk

Oslo, Norway (Image credit: Diana Jarvis)

What camera to use for blue hour