“Monterosso Blue”, Cinque Terre, Italy

You really feel like a rock star photographer when you learn the “Blue Hour” technique of photography. It is not very difficult but these few details will get you on your way.

A tripod is essential.

Look for scenes that have some kind of artificial light to balance with the blue ambient light of the sky. During the day when you are out photographing, train yourself to look for interesting blue hour compositions and look for the artificial light sources that will illuminate the scene at night. Many tourist attractions are illuminated at night.  In the situation above, I was standing on the beach in Monterosso, Italy with a street just behind and above me. The street lights were illuminating the foreground surf and rocks.

“Field of Miracles Blue”, Pisa, Italy

Avoid strong, large, and direct light sources in your composition. You can have them behind you, to the side, above, or below you in front of the camera as long as the light is pointing toward your subject and not into your lens.

“Santa Maria della Salute Blue”, Venice, Italy

Small direct light sources in your composition can be great, especially if you stop your lens down to f16 to create a starburst effect. Check your captured images on your LCD to make sure you are not getting unsightly flare from the direct light sources. You can clone out some flare in post-processing. The further away those direct light sources are the more starburst effect you will get and less flare and blasted out blobs of light.

The optimum time to get the great balance of artificial and ambient light is between 30 and 45 minutes before sunrise and after sunset.

Use a cable/shutter release.

Avoid underexposing as you will have a lot of noise in your dark shadows. Bring your exposure up so that your highlights are not washed out. Don’t worry about the direct light source(street lamps, etc) as those will always be washed out unless you do a separate exposure for them and blend them into the scene in Photoshop. That is a whole different topic, Exposure Blending.

Adjust your ISO higher if your exposure needs more than 30 seconds of exposure. Remember that at the higher ISOs you will get more noise in your images.

Have fun!