For ages, artists have been inspired by the light created during the transition from day to night. The warm orange-yellow colors of the sky in the west flow into the cool blue of the night. The world is immersed in its own light. If you look at the color wheel, you will notice that these colors are exactly opposite each other, one also speaks of complementary colors.
The first artificial lighting is now switched on and a melancholic calm spreads. The hustle and bustle of the day disappears. The light of the emerging night sky no longer manages to outshine other light sources.
Depending on the geographical position and the season, this mood lasts about 30 – 50 minutes, according to experience, you have about 20 minutes, you would like to photograph exactly this mood.
Now is the time for long exposures to emphasize the tranquility of this mood or even the traffic whose lights are now painting light streaks on the images. A stable (!) Tripod is essential. Because with the tripod you have not only the concentration on the picture but also the leisure to enjoy the Blue Hour itself.
There is today for all nonsense an app, as well as to calculate for the blue hour. You really do not need such a thing. Going out, you get a feeling for the times of sunset. And so offers itself anyway to find his place in time and to wait for the right moment. A warm sweater, even in the summer, will awaken quite new sympathies. Basically you should have already chosen his motive before, who does this until the blue hour, can confidently stay at home. The Blue Hour is simply not for spontaneity.
The Blue Hour is also nothing for mass photography. One to two motifs, one to two images should be enough, if the subject is well considered and prepared.
Whether analogue or digital photography, with a high resolution you need a longer exposure due to a lower sensitivity of the sensor setting or the film. An aperture of 8 is quite appropriate. If light points are to shine as star-shaped dots, one adjusts to aperture 16, which saves a blurring star filter. If you want quite soft points of light, you open the aperture as large as possible.
If there is or is an object in the foreground in the foreground that deserves to be illuminated, an unleashed flash with a manual setting is recommended. But lighting is always on the background, because the sky is supposed to shine in the right light. If you set the exposure anywhere between 4 and 30 seconds, you have all the peace to trigger the flash by hand. However, we have nothing against dark spots that form a silhouette. Because the pictures at the Blue Hour often live off the omission.
Which motives are suitable?
Coastal and lake landscapes, boat bridges and piers, illuminated buildings, forests with a star horizon, bridges and old factories are just some of the examples that are available for taking pictures at the Blue Hour.
Lakes or rivers reflect the blue color of the sky, while bridges and factory buildings appear as shadow-shaped silhouettes. Single lights give the picture the right spice. During the day disturbing or distracting image parts are covered by the shadows.
Also, if it’s modern in post-production, Blue Hour motifs look more natural if you can do without HDR and the shadows do not brighten up in retrospect. At the Blue Hour, parts of the picture are welcome to linger in the shade, which makes the picture more harmonious. In analogue photography, stronger films can be used to accentuate the color intensity. One recommendation is for example the Kodak Portra 400 or the Kodak Portra 160.
* All images were taken with the Leica Summilux 1.4 / 50mm with the old Kodak Porta 160VC. The greater color intensity can be achieved with the new film by extending the exposure time. Instead, expose the film with ISO 100 instead of ISO 160.