We’re sure you’ve noticed that when you try to take photos in the middle of the day, you might end up with tired, washed-out photos, no matter how hard you try. The good news is that there are several specific hours in a day that offer the ideal setting and perfect lighting for photoshoots. We usually call them blue hour and golden hour, which both happen around sunrise and sunset.

The terms “golden hour” and “blue hour” can be deceptive as they rarely last a full hour. At times they can either last for just fifteen minutes or a full hour, completely dependent on the location of your professional photography session. The golden hours happen just after the sunrise and before the sunset, when the sun is low on the horizon, creating that signature warm glow, and filling the sky with different shades of yellow, orange, and pink, lending a stunning backdrop for breathtaking professional shots. While the golden hour offers vibrant colors, the blue hour lends cooler tones to the environment. Blue hour usually happens shortly before sunrise and after sunset, when the sun is positioned just below the horizon. Both these times of the day offer great photography opportunities for professional photographers to create amazing work.

Despite their fleeting nature, these times of the day have served as the inspiration to countless professional photographers over the years to capture some of the incredible shots in the best of frames. If you want to learn some creative ideas to master golden hour, blue hour, and twilight, this blog is for you. In this blog, we are going to teach you how to master these times of photography gold. For further reading, check out this blog to know all the secrets for making the most of these enchanting moments.


Scout Your Location Properly Beforehand

We always suggest photographers plan everything, especially when going in for golden hour or blue hour photography. Firstly, scout the location for your photography session. There are times when you will come across a scene that you know has potential, but you simply can’t find an interesting way to shoot it in the middle of the day! Just plan to come back at another time to see if that changes your perspective.

As we know, shooting during the middle of the day does not lead to good, professional photographs. However, documenting professional photographs during golden or blue hours can be a bit tricky. The sun moves quickly, so if you are not in the right place at the right time, or not fully focused, there’s a chance that you might miss the moment! Being aware of the obstacles you’ll face is yet another way you can perform at your best in your session, and scouting the location certainly helps.


Try To Get There an Hour Early

Arrive one or two hours before golden hour or blue hour, so that you have ample time to practice some shots beforehand. It is always a great idea to take practice shots before actually going in for the moment when it appears.

When it comes to capturing these times, one of the biggest challenges lies in determining where the best spots and angles to capture the best shots and, of course, the surreal setting. A professional photography pro tip: try to choose a spot with an open sky. Avoid locations that cast large shadows, as it will affect your lighting exposure.

This also allows you to find your best spots at the beginning of the shoot. By doing this you will get a clear image of what the location will look like during the blue or the golden hour and be prepared during your actual shoot.

There are also applications, like PhotoPills, that are great for planning your blue or golden hour professional photography shoot with updated times for sunrise and sunset in your area.


Select A Fast Lens for Capturing The Best Shots

Your lens needs to have larger apertures, like f/1.2, f/1.4, or f/1.8, especially if you are capturing blue hour and the lighting condition is low. Having a larger aperture will give you more flexibility and more time to shoot, resulting in amazing professional photographs.

You can also bump up your ISO or decrease shutter speed if you are not getting enough light. These changes can lead to noise or motion blur, but opening up that aperture is a good way to counteract those negative effects.

Another perk of shooting with a wide aperture is the shallow depth of field and bokeh in the background you will get, resulting in some great images. If you are choosing a background with a lot of colored highlights, the photograph will have a lot of bokeh as well.


Make Sure You Know Your Camera Well

Some cameras work better in low light as compared to others, so it is important to know the limitations of your gear before you head for the shoot.

In low light conditions, you must know what your camera is capable of doing to produce your desired outcome. Such as, will your camera shake if you shoot at a slower speed? Can you focus accurately? Can this film stock capture the colors that you want in your photographs? Being thorough and confident that you just have the right equipment for the job allows you to focus on making and capturing the picture you envision. Never be afraid to experiment with a few different rental options to see what works best for you.


Keep A Close Check on Your White Balance

If you are using a digital camera, you must know the importance of white balance. White balance will serve you well in most situations, but it is ideal when you are shooting blue hour or golden hour. In auto mode, your professional camera will neutralize cooler and warmer tones. So, it is always advisable to set your white balance yourself. You can use Tungsten or Shade, or you can also enter it manually in Kelvin. Decreasing the white balance setting will add blue shades, and increasing it will add orange. So, choose it based on the hour you are shooting.


Keep A Close Check on Squinting Eyes

There are times when golden hour casts dappled light. So when you are shooting professional portraits, make sure that it hits the right spot on a person’s face. In this scenario, your subject needs to be in the direct sun rather than backlit by the sun. To avoid capturing a squinting subject, turn them to the side so that they are not looking straight into the light.


Capture As Many Photos as Possible

Running out of time is one of the biggest challenges a photographer experiences while shooting. It is always a great idea to capture as many shots as possible. Don’t get too immersed in an individual moment, but keep all the shots you want to take at the forefront of your mind. Being mindful is an important thing in all aspects of your photography, especially when it comes to blue hour and golden hour photography.


Don’t Forget to Check Your Exposure Regularly

There’s a chance you might not notice it, but your exposure changes rapidly. At times, photographers simply forget to check the exposure they are shooting in, but it changes, so keep tabs on it. Pay close attention to how colors change in this kind of light, as it is the most interesting aspect, no matter what you are documenting.


Learn to Shoot In Manual Mode Too!

One of the ways to improve your professional photography is to shoot in manual mode. Shooting manually is one of the best practices to explore and develop your aesthetics.

Shooting in manual mode will give you full control over your exposure and creative aspects like the depth of field, grain, and motion blur. Of course, you can also “break the rules” with various interesting compositions, underexposures, and other unconventional effects. Shooting in manual mode will help you understand how each of your settings influences the mood and aesthetic of your final photos. So, try shooting in a manual mode the next time you are going for a blue or golden hour shoot.


Focus on Capturing Emotions

Blue hour and golden hour offer ample technical tips, emotions, and, of course, a serene atmosphere for your photos. These intangible elements are often what make blue hour photography feel completely lonely or wistful, and golden hour photography feels dreamy, romantic, and magical. So don’t forget to tap into all those feelings in your professional portraits.

For example, during golden hour, the softer light makes photos feel more intimate, and it makes people feel more reachable. It is a bit complicated to explain, but during certain times of day, it seems as though everyone and everything is unveiled. So, if you are lucky enough, you can get a glimpse of that inner world gracefully captured in the most beautiful frames in your professional photos.

There is no denying that blue hour and golden hour are some of the most incredible times of the day when nature itself gives a marvelous backdrop and awaits to be captured in the most glorious frames. We hope that the above-mentioned creative ideas have helped you to master golden hour and blue hour photography in the best possible way!

Happy Photographing!

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