Blue Hour Photography

May 6, 2021

You’ve most likely heard of the golden hour, but have you heard of the blue hour?  

Blue hour is just as stunning as golden hour but discussed far less. Blue hour comes around the same time as golden hour and is the perfect time to take stunning cityscape and landscape photos. Blue hour will give your photos an interesting blue tinge that you cannot get any other time of day  

Why do fewer people talk about the blue hour?  

It is quite difficult to say exactly why, but with sunset and golden hour shots being so popular, blue hour often gets overlooked. Normally, if you are shooting during the evening golden hour, the blue hour would be the time you set up. But blue hour can create some stunning images.  

Unfortunately, similar to golden hour, blue hour is not a full hour and usually only lasts around 20-40 minutes. Photographers need to be prepared and set up their gear early to take full advantage of the short window of opportunity.   

When exactly is the blue hour?  

Blue hour occurs when the sun goes behind the horizon, and the sky turns a blue hue. Blue hour occurs twice a day, once in the morning after the sunrise, and once in the evening before the golden sunsets.   

What to bring when shooting blue hour & how to shoot 

When shooting during blue hour, one of the most important pieces of gear to bring (other than your camera) is a tripod. You must remember that you will be shooting in low light, creating a longer exposure time. When you are shooting during blue hour, it is best practice to shoot in RAW so you can capture everything in the image 

What if I just missed blue hour?  

Do you have a photo where you just missed the blue hour and want to recreate it in ACDSee? We have some general tips for you. Every image is unique, so bring your creativity to the image. Here are some general edits that you can make in your photo to create a blue hour effect. These edits will only work on photos that were taken close to blue hour and will not work on photos taken at other points in the day, like mid-afternoon on a sunny day 

Editing your Blue Hour photos

White Balance 

Begin by fixing the white balance. You will want to incorporate more blues so adjust the slider to incorporate an appropriate amount of blues into your photo – but resist the tendency to over-edit the image 

Tone Curves  

You want to be able to bring out the shadows and highlights in the photo. First, we need to even out the blacks and whites in the image so your image is flatter – giving you a blank canvas to work with so you can adjust the overall highlights as you see fit. After balancing the image, go into the individual colors and play around with them. You will want to bring up the blues – since we are working with blue light. 


Increase the exposure to capture details. Adjusting the tone curves and white balance can take out some of the details in your photo. Adjust the exposure to bring back some of the details in the photo. This may look over-exposed, but we still have a few adjustments to go to fix that.   


Color EQ  

We now have this very bright, over-exposed photo that we will need to bring the color back into. We will use Color EQ to adjust saturation, brightness, and hue in each color. Again, this is something that you can play with in your image, but we will be focusing on bringing out the blues.    

Split Tone  

Split tone adjustments bring in more blue to the photo. This is one of your last edits so bring in the exact amount of blue you would like in your image.   

Noise Reduction 

Reduce the amount of noise in your photo, this will smooth it out, while still preserving the detail.   

Why does noise occur? Noise can occur when you have a high ISO or you are shooting in long exposure. Since you are shooting in low light your ISO will be high, it is likely that there will be some noise in your photo. Luckily, there is an easy fix. You can increase the luminance.   

After these adjustments, tweak your photo exposure or color to get it exactly right.   

We hope that this blog will inspire you to go out and shoot during blue hour! If you do be sure to tag us 

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