Golden Hour vs Blue Hour, Which is the better light?

Photography literally means “drawing with light”. It’s derived from the Greek photo, meaning light and graph, meaning to draw. Additionally, a camera works by registering light to a sensor. The point I am getting at is that it’s all about the light people. It should be considered in every photograph you create. And Golden hour and Blue hour are a great place to start.

Golden Hour

If you have explored photography at all, you know Golden Hour, also referred to as the Magic Hour. It occurs during the first and last hour of sunlight each day. This period of daylight is warm, soft diffused light, creating a captivating and ethereal atmosphere. The science of it all is that the sun is low on the horizon, and its rays travel through a thicker layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, scattering shorter wavelengths like blue and green, leaving behind the warm hues of red, orange, and yellow.

Golden Hour is a number one choice by photographers for its ability to cast long shadows, add a gentle glow to subjects, and create a sense of warmth and intimacy. Portraits taken during this time exude a natural and flattering light, enhancing skin tones and reducing harsh contrasts. Here is an example of a session taken during golden hour.

Golden Hour Vs Blue Hour; Which is the better light? warm backlit portrait

Blue Hour

Blue hour is Golden hour’s lesser known counterpart. This is the time right before sunrise and right after sunset. It is characterized by a cool, blue-toned light. During this time, the sun is below the horizon. Thus indirect sunlight scatters in the Earth’s atmosphere giving the sky a deep blue hue. The Blue Hour provides a serene and tranquil atmosphere, perfect for capturing a different mood in your photographs.

Blue hour only lasts for 20-30 minutes. You have to plan ahead and be prepared. Because of this, many of my sessions, like this one, will have both golden and blue hour photos.

Golden Hour Vs Blue Hour; Which is the better light? family on beach after sunset

In Conclusion

Both the Golden Hour and the Blue Hour provide photographers with exceptional light to create stunning images. Whether you prefer the warm and soft glow of the Golden Hour or the cool, serene ambiance of the Blue Hour, understanding the unique characteristics of each period will help you make the most of these magical moments. Ultimately, the key is to experiment and see how each can work to your benefit and help you cultivate your own unique aesthetic.

Check out this app to help you pin point Golden and Blue hour. It is what I use to schedule my sessions for optimum light and therefore an exceptional product.

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