What are Golden Hour, Blue Hour and Twilights? Find Out!

by Barry AnderssonLeave a Comment

Everyone I know talks about shooting at the “Magic hour,” others refer to the “Golden Hour” or others yet say in the morning or at night.  Everyone clear?

Have you ever considered (or heard) of the other “Magic hours” for light?

Golden Hour

Blue Hour

Twilights

If you have heard of them (or now that you know about them) do you know exactly when and where each phase starts and stops?

Capturing beautiful, and often the “right” light for your shoot is paramount.  If you are shooting under natural light it becomes more critical as each phase of these types of light are limited in duration.  If you don't know when they start and where to look then you have no shot at capturing the best light.

Golden Hour

The golden hour is the time of day where the color of the sky goes from red and orange to yellow or, as its name suggests, golden tones. Lighting during this time is soft, diffused and with little contrast, since the sun is low in the sky.

Blue hour

Blue hour happens when the sky has a deep blue hue with cool color temperatures and saturated colors. At the beginning of the evening and at the end of the morning, a gradient of colors, from blue to orange, can be seen right in the place of sunset and sunrise.

This is an ideal time for city photography as buildings are still lit and streetlights on. It’s also ideal for landscape photography because of the different shades of the sky and color saturation. Don't forget that you can also capture beautiful lunar photography as well.

Twilights

These are the time intervals happening between night and day, just before sunrise and just after sunset. The sun is still below the horizon, but its light is visible (as it illuminates the upper layers of the atmosphere).

There are apps to help you navigate this however.

For insanely detailed notes on the entire range and tips of what subject matter is best in each phase check out the more detailed post over at our friends at Petapixel.com

Happy Shooting!

Understanding Golden Hour, Blue Hour and Twilights

Wanna be a light hunter? Let’s start with the maths. The following list shows the different light phases depending on the elevation of the sun… Please don’t panic, you can use PhotoPills to comfortably find out when each light phase occurs:

Nighttime (below -18°)
Morning twilights (from -18° to 0°)
Astronomical Twilight (from -18° to -12°)
Nautical Twilight (from -12° to -6°)
Civil twilight (from -6° to 0°)
Morning magic hours
Blue hour (from -6° to -4°)
Golden hour (from -4° to 6°)
Daytime (above 6°)
Evening magic hours
Golden hour (from 6° to -4°)
Blue hour (from -4° to -6°)
Evening twilights (from 0° to -18°)
Civil twilight (from 0° to -6°)
Nautical Twilight (from -6° to -12°)
Astronomical Twilight (from -12° to -18°)
Nighttime (below -18°)

Twilights and magic hours happen in the morning and in the evening, but this doesn’t mean that the same conditions of light are repeated exactly. It will depend not only on the elevation of the sun, but also on weather conditions, pollution, particles in suspension, etc.

A representation of morning twilights, golden hour and blue hour. In the evening, it’s exactly the same but happening in the west instead of in the east.

A representation of morning twilights, golden hour and blue hour. In the evening, it’s exactly the same but happening in the west instead of in the east.

Twilights

Twilights are the time intervals happening between night and day, before sunrise and after sunset. The sun is below the horizon, but its light is visible because it illuminates the upper layers of the atmosphere.

In more mathematical terms, we say that we are in twilight phase when the center of the sun is between -18° (18 degrees below the horizon) and 0° of elevation.

This is how twilights are seen from the ISS, the International Space Station: a diffused area between nighttime and daytime. Earth at Twilight – Astronomy Picture of the Day, 2003 April 24 Credits: ISS Crew, Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Lab, JSC, NASA

This is how twilights are seen from the ISS, the International Space Station: a diffused area between nighttime and daytime.
Earth at Twilight – Astronomy Picture of the Day, 2003 April 24
Credits: ISS Crew, Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Lab, JSC, NASA

PhotoPills’ representation of twilights and golden hour on the Planner’s map. The map area without color indicates areas of the earth in daytime; orange in golden hour; light purple in civil twilight; dark purple in nautical twilight; dark blue in astronomical twilight and the darker area on the left is in nighttime.

PhotoPills’ representation of twilights and golden hour on the Planner’s map. The map area without color indicates areas of the earth in daytime; orange in golden hour; light purple in civil twilight; dark purple in nautical twilight; dark blue in astronomical twilight and the darker area on the left is in nighttime.

Reach full article on Petapixel “Understanding Golden Hour, Blue Hour and Twilights”

Source:

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

 

(cover photo credit: snap from Petapixel)

Barry Andersson

Barry Andersson is an award-winning director and cinematographer. Mr Andersson takes his real world experiences and shares those images and lessons with everyone from the US Marine Corp combat camera teams, many of the leading teams of the four major sports leagues, leading universities around the US as well as leading productions looking to take advantage of the latest technology.

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