In many outdoor situations, I find myself working with harsh lighting; as the case is with most of my wedding shoots. The sun is often time harshest around noon. This is due to where the sun rises and sets! However, when we catch the sun at the right time we can get some cool effects. Most people know that if you take photos before sunset you can capture “Golden Hour” to get that gold crisp look on your subject. However, not many people take advantage of the hour after – “Blue Hour”, which gives a totally different but yet still as amazing effect as “Golden Hour”.
“Golden Hour” vs “Blue Hour”
As most of you know “Golden Hour” is when the sun is about to set past the horizon and the sky is filled with this golden hue. A lot of photographers like to shoot during this time as it adds more color to their photos by making it more “warm”. If you have your subject face towards you with the sun in the background you can try to capture that halo ring along with your subject’s hair! You can also have a nice golden lit background for your subject that will be difficult to naturally achieve at any other time.
“Blue Hour” refers to the period that happens after “Golden Hour”. “Blue Hour” is when the sun has just set where our eye can see but has not fully set further down the horizon. You can use this time to take a “cool” photo where there is still light on both the subject and the background. There’s not much need of enhancing the photos post-shoot to ensure your subject can be seen. If it happens to be a clear day there may be a pinkish horizon. Just one thing to keep in mind is that although it’s called “Blue Hour”, the actual duration of the effects is only 20 to 40 minutes. Sometimes this could be even shorter. If you do plan to take advantage of this effect, arrive early and get all your settings ready when trying to capture “Blue Hour” photos.
When it comes to which effect is cooler, it’s impossible to answer because both give different effects. “Golden Hour” gives a more warm, golden effect in comparison to “Blue Hour”‘s a cool effect. The duration of “Golden Hour” is much longer than that of “Blue Hour”, giving a photographer more leeway, but the light is much harsher and can sometimes be more difficult to work with. However, preparation is always the key to capturing a beautiful photo!
What if you don’t have time during sunset?
If you don’t have time to take these photos during the afternoon before the sun sets, don’t worry! Both these light situations can be mimicked during sunrise. We can establish “Blue Hour” as the time the sun is starting to rise, while “Golden Hour” would be the period right when the sun rises! This is just a mirrored schedule of a sunset. One thing to be cautious of is where the sun is relative to your subject and background objects; the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Both “Golden Hour” and “Blue Hour” are very easy to work with in terms of lighting and capturing cool effects on your photos!
Thank you for reading this post! If you have any more questions on what “Golden Hour” and “Blue Hour” feel free to let me know! Now go out and capture some amazing photos!