How To Shoot Videos During Blue Hour (Twilight) Like A Pro

Blue hour is ideal for shooting videos with a dark blue landscape. Here’s what you need to know to shoot videos during this time.

October 11th, 2017

Lighting is a crucial element to your video shoots. Several times during the day, you will have access to different types of light for your shots.

Understanding what those types are and how they work will help you to take advantage of the natural light God provides.

In my experience, many people like to shoot videos during golden hour. If you are unfamiliar with golden hour or magic hour, all you need to know is that they are the time of the day when the sun is rising and when the sun is setting. We have an entire tutorial on how you can best shoot videos during this time.

But I haven’t come across too many people who shoot their videos during what is called blue hour.

Now, you may know blue hour by a different name: twilight. Just like magic hour, twilight occurs twice a day. It takes place once in the morning and once in the evening.

In the morning, blue hour occurs before the sun peaks out over the horizon. At night, blue hour occurs after the sun has fully set.

What makes blue hour ideal for shooting videos is that, even though the sun isn’t visible, there is indirect, residual light that will crest over the horizon, which creates a dark blue landscape.

Blue hour light is unlike anything else
Blue hour light is unlike anything else

How to prepare for blue hour

Don’t be misled by the name blue hour. Unlike magic hour, blue hour doesn’t come close to lasting a full hour.

Depending on how close you are to the equator and the time of year, magic hour may not last an hour, either. But blue hour will always be significantly shorter. In fact, it’s closer to 20 minutes for most people. So, when you are shooting videos, you will need to move fast.

The best way to capture videos during blue hour is to plan to arrive at your location with enough time to set up your camera. This way you will not waste one precious moment of twilight.

To do this, you will need to know what time blue hour begins and ends. Thankfully, this isn’t a guessing game. There are apps you can use that will tell you exactly when this will happen. My favorite app to use for this is called Rizon, which will tell you when blue hour begins and ends based on your location and the day so you can plan accordingly.

Getting up early for blue hour is always worth it
Getting up early for blue hour is always worth it

The best camera settings for blue hour

One often overlooked key for preparing to capture video during blue hour is your camera settings. Since you will only have a few minutes of time to shoot videos, it’s best to prepare your camera ahead of time, too. Here are four settings you will need to adjust.

1. Use a lens with a wide aperture

During blue hour, the light is not strong, so you will need to use a lens that has a wide aperture. I’ve found that something around F1.8 or wider is ideal.

2. Adjust your camera’s ISO

You will need to increase your camera’s ISO setting, which deals with the sensitivity of your sensor to light. Making this adjustment will help you to capture the stunning, yet weak, light during blue hour, and it will help you to expose the image correctly.

3. Use your camera’s noise reduction

The third setting you want to adjust ahead of time is your camera’s noise reduction. Adapting this setting will help you remove any unwanted “noise” or gain in your videos. In other words, your videos will not be as grainy.

4. Pay attention to your camera’s white balance

Finally, adjust your camera’s white balance.

To get a bright blue hour look, make sure you don’t have your auto white balance turned on. I like to keep the white balance set on my camera to daylight mode, which is right around 5600K. Yes, this is a technically incorrect setting. However, this helps us to best capture the blue look we are going for in our image.

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Have you shot videos during blue hour? Do you have different tips you’d like to add? Share what you’ve learned in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!