Before talking about how to take beautiful blue hour photography at twilight and dusk using long exposure technique, let’s get the basics down!
Finding out Your Local Sunset and Dusk Time
In terms of timeline, SUNSET comes first, followed by DUSK about 20 minutes later. The time between sunset and dusk is called TWILIGHT, and NIGHT falls once dusk is over. When I say “blue hour photography”, it refers to the time after sunset till the end of dusk, no earlier or later. Although it says blue “hour”, it actually lasts only approx. 10 minutes towards the end of dusk that has beautiful bluish hue in the sky. I wish blue hour could literally last for an hour, though!
To find out your local sunset and dusk time, simply go to gaisma.com and search up your city (e.g. sunset and dusk time in Singapore on 8 Oct 2015 is 18:55 and 19:16 respectively).
Sunset to dusk in timeline. Towards the end of dusk is the best time to shoot blue hour photos with beautiful bluish hue in the sky.
The Last 10 Minutes of Dusk That Matters Most
In this 20+ minutes between sunset and dusk, the first 10 minutes is still not quite “ripe”, as city buildings are not yet fully lit-up, and the sky hasn’t yet taken on beautiful bluish hue that’s typically seen towards the end of dusk.
When there is about 10 minutes left before dusk, bluish hue starts to appear in the sky and gets deeper and deeper with every single minute passing by. It’s this last 10 minutes of dusk that is the best time to shoot long exposure photos, as more city buildings are lit-up, and the considerably darken sky lets shutter speed go much longer to create silky smooth water effect, as seen in the photo below. It’s undoubtedly the most beautiful time of a day.
This long exposure photo was shot with 163 seconds exposure 5 minutes before the end of dusk, resulting in silky smooth water and streaking clouds (Marina Bay [Singapore], 18mm, f/13, 163 seconds [with 6 stop ND filter attached], ISO 100).
No More Shooting after Dusk Ends
One last thing to note. Blue hour photography is sometimes mixed up with night photography, which comes once dusk is over. Personally, I never shoot after dusk. Photos shot after dusk are normally quite dark and colours look muddy as there is no bluish hue left in the sky.
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