If you aren’t familiar, the “blue hour” is the time that lasts for about an hour after twilight. The sun is down and finally behind the horizon and the sky illuminates to a dark blue hue. There may be some residual oranges and reds up in those skies, but those are fading quickly. For an example of this type of scene, please take a look at this photo.
While this period of time may extend approximately an hour after sunset, if the moon is present in the sky, it can surpass that time and extend well into the nighttime hours. Even overnight.
I would like to offer a few tips in this post for those who wish to endeavor outside to capture the beautiful skies the night offers. Simply setting your camera to Auto Mode and shooting away will not suffice. There are some suggested settings I encourage you to follow and a few additional ones that may offer some bonus effects. I’ll list all these below.
1. When shooting at night, you’ll need a long exposure time. Set your camera to Shutter Priority Mode to gear up for this.
2. Set your shutter speed for a length of time between 5 and 30 seconds, depending on how dark the sky is.
3. Lock your ISO in at a low value. Generally 100 to 200 will work well.
4. Keep your camera steady on a tripod. This is no time for hand holding.
5. If you’re using a large aperture lens, you can reduce the shutter speed time. If you’re using a small aperture size, you’ll need to increase the shutter speed time.
6. When setting up your camera, follow these rules for focusing at night.
7. If the moon is present and you’d like a starburst effect from it, use a small aperture size.
8. If locking in a small aperture size, you’ll need to switch your camera to full Manual Mode to set both the shutter speed and the aperture size.
Click through for full instructions and tips for taking photography during the blue hour.