Shoot During the Blue Hour for Better City Landscape Photography

Tip for shooting cityscapes

Blue Hour, the best night photography tip

Landscape photography of cities and city buildings are often some of my favorite photos.   Cityscapes capture a serene and beautiful mood better than any other type of photo.  Unfortunately, many of the cityscapes I see are shot at the “wrong” time of day.  I don’t mean to say that there is only one time that cityscapes can be shot, but 99% of the time I prefer to see cityscapes shot during the blue hour.

The “blue hour” is a term used by photographers to describe the lighting conditions between the moment when the sun sets and when the sky turns black for the night.  Despite the deceptively misdescriptive name, the blue hour does not last for an hour at all.  In fact, it usually only lasts for about ten minutes.

The blue hour is perfect light for shooting cityscapes because it provides just enough light to properly expose the backgrounds of the scene while being dark enough to not overpower the city lights, which add flavor to the shot.

Most of you will probably forget this post by the next time you take a cityscape, but I would encourage you to carefully watch the light the next time you photograph between sunset and night.  If you watch carefully, you’ll take advantage of the gorgeous blue tones of the blue “hour” if you simply pay attention to the rapidly changing light conditions.

About the Author

Jim Harmer

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Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast. More than a million photographers follow him on social media, and he has been listed at #35 in rankings of the most popular photographers in the world. Jim travels the world to shoot with readers of Improve Photography in his series of free photography workshops. See his portfolio here.


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