Kind of Blue - tyneholm
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Kind of Blue


This assignment is all about capturing the “blue hour” – the period of twilight in the morning and evening when the ambient light takes on a natural blue hue.

The cool tones at this time lend an atmosphere of mystery and romance to the scene/ It’s probably fair to say that cityscapes look their most attractive at this time.

To catch the morning blue hour you will need to be on location and setup about an hour before sunrise. For the evening blue hour you will need to stay for 30 to 60 minutes after sunset; the extra effort’s really worth it.

We suggest you start with an evening blue hour shoot as this is much easier – you can setup, spend time getting your composition fine-tuned, and focus accurately while it is still light.

By contract the morning blue hour is much more challenging, as you need to setup while it’s more or less pitch black. To ensure success, you’ll need to scout the location during daylight hours and decide on your composition then.

View the images


  • Auto White Balance will sometimes interpret the natural blue hues of twilight as a colour cast and try to ‘correct’ it, so use your camera’s Daylight preset to prevent this. (See ASSIGNMENT L20)
  • Although it is called the “blue hour” it usually only lasts for around 30-40 minutes (depending upon the time of year and location), and the peak can last just a few minutes.
  • Timing is crucial with cityscapes, as the best shots are in the short window when the ambient and artificial light are perfectly balanced.
  • Start shooting just before the blue hour and continue past the peak to ensure you capture the perfect light.
  • In low light, extremely long exposures may be necessary.

Special Kit

  • Smartphone app such as PhotoPills.

Field Notes

  • Choosing the right subject is the key to successful blue hour shoots.
  • Cityscapes are a popular choice, as warm, artificial lighting contrasts dramatically with the deep blue of the sky.
  • Prominent floodlit buildings or monuments can be placed in the frame to act as a focal point for the composition.
  • In rural landscapes mist can provide tonal contrast to prevent the blue tones overwhelming the scene.
  • Shooting with a small aperture can create starbursts with point light sources such as street lamps.
  • The warm glow of artificial light on buildings contrasts dramatically with the rich blue of skies.