Curated Article/Blog

TOP 15 SITES TO SELL YOUR PHOTOS ONLINE

SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 curated article by: Elle-Rose,

I take a lot of travel photos (it comes naturally, being a travel blogger!) and I’m always thinking of ways that those photos can make me money. I love the photos I’ve taken, so surely other people would too?

Here I’ve put together a big list of websites where you can sell your travel photos online, some are big companies you’ll have heard of – others are smaller companies – that might make a better choice if you’re taking this on as a side project for extra ‘pocket-money’. Either way – these are all great places to sell your photos online – so get reading!

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iStock Photo

Sell your images through iStock Photo and you’ll earn a royalty rate of 15% for each download. There is also an option to become an exclusive contributor and earn up to 45% instead, which is pretty impressive. These website has a good community feel to it – there are lots of forums and group discussion, which really helps when you’re trying to figure out which of your photos will sell online better than others.

Art Storefronts

Learn how to sell photos online as fine art, and get your own eCommerce website with must-have features to increase your art sales.  This is a robust website platform for professional photographers focused on selling their images as art prints.  They provide first-class educational resources, and a step-by-step Success Plan to ensure that you follow best-practices.  You can print and fulfill your own orders, choose your own lab, or use one of their labs for automated print fulfillment (“print on demand”).  There is also a members-only forum where all customers share ideas, sales strategies, and receive guidance from industry experts.

TourPhotos.com 

If you work in travel, and want to make extra money from your photos – TourPhotos is a professional photography platform dedicated to tourism and activity companies. It will help you manage and deliver your tour photos (the photographs from your activities, excursions and attractions) to your customers. You will be able to choose whether to sell or make your photos available for free (SELL plan or GIVE plan). TourPhotos charges between 19% and 25% commission on your sales with zero fixed fees (if you decide to sell photos) or a 19$/49$ (pro/business) monthly fee if you decide to share your photos for free.
With its endless features and tools, TourPhotos guarantees you, your photographers and your final customers an extremely user-friendly, customisable and professional experience.

SmugMug

This website is a lot like an online gallery or portfolio – with the added benefit of being able to sell your photos online via the tool too. It’s great as it has two purposes. The first (of course) to sell your photos, the second – to make them look awesome. And you’re more likely to sell more photos online, the more professional and awesome you’ve got them displayed.  You can set your own pricing and you get to keep 85% of the markup – but that’s not all, as well as selling digital downloads, you have the option of selling prints and greetings cards too, which is good for those of us who want more selling options.

Unlimited Photo Storage

Alamy

On Alamy photographers earn a whopping 60% royalty fee on any images they sell, so it’s easy to see why this website is such a popular choice when it comes to selling photos online. It’s one of the world’s largest stock photo libraries – so you’l have a fair bit of competition,  but maybe that’s a good thing and will help you step up your game!

Stockxpert

This is one of the smaller websites on the list, but still offers a great reach for beginners – so would make a fantastic option for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the world of selling photos online. The royalty isn’t too bad either – you’ll get 50% of the price of each photos you sell.

Dreamstime

Dreamstime is a microstock agency, and one of the best there is. Aside from being easy to use, it is well thought of and reputable too – which is just as important when making the decision of where to sell your photos online. Before you start selling, you’ll need to get your images approved by their editors (which can be a long process) but once you’ve been approved and you’ve got the hang of it, a rate of 25-50% royalty is yours for the taking.

Travel Accessories

PhotoShelter

This is perhaps one of the more well known options on this list, and if you like the idea of selling your work (but at the same time want to retain complete control and pocket more of the profit – who doesn’t want those things?) you could consider setting up a professional photography website with built-in ecommerce from PhotoShelter. The PhotoShelter system is modern, and will make your images look beautiful.

Crestock

To start selling with Crestock, simply sign up to their website, follow through the easy registration process… and you’re good to go! They’ll give you 30% royalty, so once the images have been approved by staff you may be able to start selling images within the week!

Fotolia

I like Fotolia for its convenience, fair royalties and expansive market reach. Sign up and present your work to more than four million image buyers around the world, around the clock and you’ll notice your images start selling quickly and seamlessly. Each time one of your photos sell, you earn a royalty of between 20% and 63% of your sale, which is immediately added to your Fotolia account – which takes away any money hassles.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a highly ranking website which means it likely gets a lot of online traffic – perfect for making sure you sell your photos! Shutterstock also have an approval process in place – and you’ll have to submit ten initial images for approval before you can proceed with any others. But no fear! There are many online forums on their website where you can pick up hints and tips for getting this right first time. With Shutterstock you’ll earn between $0.25 and $28 each time an image of yours sells, depending on the licence.

123RF

With this site, their royalty structure is based on your contributor level, which is quite unique. It basically means, the more images you upload, the more you can earn – good news for anyone who plans to commit to this full-time. The amount you receive could rise from 30% up to 60% if you are particularly active on the site – so get started quickly and build up your reputation.

Can Stock Photo

Can Stock Photo offers photographers a 50% royalty fee which is great if you’re just starting out. Once you’re a member it’s easy to submit images and you can get going almost immediately.

Zenfolio

Zenfolio allows you to create a portfolio site of your work, a little like Smug Mug mentioned above. You can upload photos, create galleries, password protect galleries, and make your photos available for purchase – a great option for wedding and event photographers where you might make several sales off the back of one event. There is a 14-day free trial available if you want to give it a spin first.

Red Bubble

This is a more quirky one, but I wanted to include it! If your images are more VSCO and Instagram friendly – than studio lighting and fake smiles, you may find the audience on Red Bubble more interested in what you have to sell. They don’t just sell images, it’s all about the products too – so you could sell canvases with your images on, for example.

Snap Market

This is a bargain stock photo website, so the amount you’ll make will be less per image – but if people buy in bulk, it may end up equalising anyway. With a less strict submission process that other big names on this list, it may be a good option for anyone wanting to test the water.

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10 expert tips for improving your street photography

ByKav Dadfar

Street photography is one of the most popular genres for image-makers. But getting those striking photos isn’t always easy. These top tips will help you get the best results

Street photography is a genre that many will experiment with at some point in their photography journey, even if it’s not their principal subject of interest. It’s easily accessible for photographers of all levels, and provides ample opportunity to practice a wide range of photography skills and techniques. Great street photography has the power to evoke a range of emotions with the viewer, turn the environment around us into something extraordinary, and provide an unseen and intimate glimpse into the everyday life of others.

Saying this, capturing great photos within this genre takes time, patience, and above all, practice. So, to help you elevate your street photography–here are our top tips:

Travel light

One of the biggest advantages of street photography versus other photographic genres is that you do not need a lot of equipment for it. This is handy as you will be spending a considerable amount of time walking around looking for interesting scenes to capture. And you will generally be shooting handheld so those cumbersome tripods can stay at home, as can the bulk of your camera gear. 

Just pack your camera, mirrorless, smartphones and compact cameras are great for street photography as they are lighter and smaller than DSLRs (read more about different types of cameras here). Also consider a zoom lens – something like a 24-70mm or 24mm-105mm lens will be more than sufficient.

The only other accessory, besides a spare battery and memory cards, that might be useful would be a small LED light. This will help in low light scenarios by allowing you to illuminate your subject a little – instead of having to raise your ISO too high, which may impact the overall quality of your image. Read more about ISO here.

When it comes to street photography it is best to travel light. Compact cameras, mirrorless cameras and smartphones are ideal, as they are easy to carry around, more discreet, and much less cumbersome compared to larger cameras. Image by Grgrgrz

Get close and get over your inhibitions

Often street photography will involve people being in your composition, and to capture an intimate moment, it might mean taking a photo without the subject noticing. At other times your subject needs to be looking at the camera to help build that engagement in the photo. Either way, you will need to be close to your subject to get the best shot.

One of the most common issues encountered when practising street photography is shyness in approaching strangers to photograph, which might result in trying to take a photo from a distance with a telephoto lens, which won’t yield good results. If this sounds like you, the shyness will be a big hurdle that you need to overcome if you want to get better at street photography.

So how do you overcome your shyness? A task that I often set for my workshop attendees who suffer from this is to capture at least 3 head and shoulder portraits of strangers every day. This means they have to ask people which, when done enough, helps overcome that shyness. And in turn, you’ll find your street photography will become much more engaging.

You may need to get out of your comfort zone to get close to your subjects. But once you do, you’ll get much more intimate shots. Like this beautiful image of a mother and baby from Manila, Philippines captured by Edwin Tuyay

Learn to shoot from the hip

This is a useful technique for every street photographer to master – but especially for those who struggle with shyness. It involves just pointing the camera and shooting from lower down without looking at the LCD or through the viewfinder. The benefits of this technique are that your shots can feel more spontaneous and of course, people will be far less aware that they are being photographed.

But as you might imagine, without composing your shot properly through the viewfinder or LCD screen, the results will be very hit and miss. Sometimes you will capture a great photo, but you must accept that most of the time your shots will not work. Like anything, the more you practice the better you will become at using this technique.

Move your camera to your hip to get more discreet shots. With this technique you can get some great results–but it takes some practice. Without the assistance of the viewfinder or LCD to guide you, you’ll be relying on an element of luck to get the perfect shot. Image from Sven Hartmann

Make sure you’re ready

Good street photography will involve capturing fleeting or spontaneous moments. So, you need to be ready to shoot at any moment. That means your camera needs to be out of your bag, turned on with the lens cap off. You should also get into the habit of tweaking your exposure settings regularly based on the environment around you.

There are no universal settings for street photography as every scenario is different. But as a rule, I would recommend shooting in burst mode (when you hold down the shutter button on your camera to take multiple shots in rapid succession) as it’s extremely difficult to nail the perfect moment with one shot. Using burst mode, you can select the best frame later when you are editing your shots.

The other setting that you will find useful in most street photography scenarios is “continuous focus”. When enabled, if the shutter button is held down half-way the camera will continue to focus on the subject. This is vital when photographing a moving subject – as the point of focus will change every millisecond to stay on the subject.

With street photography it’s important to be ready to capture a moment in an instant. So make sure you have your camera out of your bag, turned on, and with the lens cap off. That way you’ll be ready when that serendipitous moment comes about–like with this stunning shot by Liviu Ratiu

Wait for the right moment

I refer to this technique as ‘setting a photography trap’. It simply requires you to find an interesting setting or location and wait for the perfect moment to take a photo. You could be waiting just a few minutes, sometimes a bit longer, and in extreme cases – hours!

See the visual examples below, the key is to try to pre-visualise the shot in your head, get your settings correct and wait for the perfect moment.


This shot wouldn’t have the same impact without the person in it – waiting for that moment with the shopkeeper is what has made this image by Niney Azman so striking
Places with street art can provide a great opportunity for photography. Photo by Michael Townsend
Choose a location and be patient–waiting will bring about the best moment for the shot. Image by Klaus Balszno

Look beyond eye-level shots

Every photographer is guilty of taking too many shots at eye level. You will be amazed how different your photos will look by simply raising your camera above your head or lowering it to the ground. Even just kneeling will give your shot a completely different perspective.

A lot of cameras these days come with a tiltable LCD screen that makes it incredibly easy and a lot more convenient to shoot at different angles. A good habit to get into is to take a variety of shots low to the ground, eye-level and above your head when you’re out with your camera. This will give you a nice range of images from different perspectives.

The lower angle for this shot adds an interesting dynamic to the scene. Image by David Young
It may be subtle, but moving the camera to above eye level (even just a little) can give your photos more unusual perspective. Image by Andrei Bortnikau
Lower your camera to the ground to find atypical angles for your subject. Image by Jean-Baptise Poupart

Simplify your composition

It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to include too much in your composition. In street photography, it is even more important to have a clear and defined story. This does not necessarily mean that you should have only one focal point in the shot. But rather to be aware of other elements in your composition that might be distracting to the viewer.

For example, if the main point of interest is in the centre of your shot, avoid distracting elements around the edges of the frame. Or if you are photographing a busy scene, make sure you have a clear point of focus for the viewer so that their eyes are not darting around the image.

The shallow depth of field in this shot by Gagan Sadana helps the main subject stand out against the busy background
Don’t be afraid to go minimalist with your shots–they can make a much bigger impact with the viewer. Image by Grgrgrz

Incorporate the urban environment

Photo opportunities for a street photographer are endless. There are just so many different variables that you can combine to make your photos unique. One of the biggest elements is the environment around you. Any built-up area will have interesting textures and features that can bring a photo to life.

Some of the best street photos are those that incorporate the built environment into the main story of the image. So be on the lookout for interesting scenes where you can combine the main subject of the photo with the surrounding environment.

The metal fence in this shot actually adds to overall composition of the photo. And the soft focus helps it not be distracting to the viewer–image by Ollie Kerr
The use of leading lines, created by the subway entrance, helps draw the viewer to the subject of the image. Image by Sven Hartmann
This image from San Sebastian by Rosie Andrews incorporates bold colours, lines and shapes in the environment around the subject which helps amplify the scene

Look for interesting light and contrasts

It is not just your subject and story that can elevate your street photos, but also the light and contrasts present in any scene. Street photography will naturally mean you’re taking photos in built up areas. This will present challenges in being able to control harsh light in bright and dark areas. But often you can use these contrasts to your advantage by making them part of your composition.

Like the examples below, if you are faced with a harsh backlit scenario, then look to capture silhouettes. If there is strong light and shadow across your scene, see if you can use it as a frame for your shot, or as leading lines to guide the viewer into other parts of the image. Strong contrasts also look great when converted to black and white

Conditions for silhouettes are a gift for street photographers and can create beautiful settings, as seen with this stunning shot from New York City by Dan Martland
Use strong shadows and contrasts to guide the viewer through your image. Here is a creative example by George Natsioulis

10 There’s no such thing as bad weather

One of the best things about street photography is that you are not restricted by changing weather and light conditions as you may be with landscape photography. In some ways, what could be considered ‘bad conditions’ is perfect for street photography. For example, overcast and rainy conditions are often the bugbear of landscape and nature photographers. But with street photography, these can be great conditions.

Muted light makes it much easier to manage your exposure, and the city streets after rainfall present tons of opportunities to capture reflections or interesting shots through rain-soaked windows (see the examples below). Even in harsh sunshine, you can utilise the shadows I talked about above to add an interesting element to your compositions.

 Bad weather is great for street photography – when it rains puddles and reflections provide an excellent opportunity to add an additional dimension to your shots. As seen with this stunning shot from London by Jackal Photography
Bad weather can add atmosphere to your shots, as demonstrated with this striking shot from Manchester, UK by Maria Panagiotidi

Next steps


Street photography is a great genre of photography to be involved in. Not only will you learn a lot of skills that will help you in whatever type of photography you specialise in, but you will also end up with some amazingly unique photos. By following these 10 tips above, you will find your images become much more striking, not just with street shots, but across many other photographic subjects too.


Kav Dadfar

Kav is a full-time photographer and author of 400+ articles. He is also a judge on the Wanderlust Magazine Photography of the Year competition and leads small group photo tours around the world.

Photography And Color

In the midst of this Travel Shut Down, I have been devoting my time to learning as much as possible about photography. My love of photography crosses a multiplicity of genre.

Whatever the genre, as a photographer we must address the big three; Light, Color, and Composition. For whatever reason my study of color has been limited.

While I am stuck at home I intend to increase my knowledge of this most important subject. The blog below from 500px Blog is my starting point. Check it out!

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Color theory for photographers: An introduction to the color wheel

In 1907, Auguste and Louis Lumière presented autochrome—a revolutionary method for reproducing color in photographs. The world was stunned and enraptured. “Soon the world will be color-mad,” photographer Alfred Stieglitz wrote that July from Munich. “And Lumière will be responsible.”

We’ve come a long way in the last century, and we no longer need potato starch—the crucial ingredient in the autochrome process—to render color. But the power of color hasn’t faded over time; all these decades later, the world is still color-mad.

While you can find color theory in any painting classroom, it remains a somewhat overlooked field in the world of photography, so we’re devoting a three-part series of articles to examine colors and the relationships between them. This is just part one–an introduction to the color wheel–so keep an eye out for the rest in the coming months.

The Color Wheel

A color wheel is just a convenient way of visualizing the relationships between colors. The most common wheel used by painters is based on RYB color system–where red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors. Mix those colors, and you end up with secondary colors orange, green, and violet. Combining those results in one of six tertiary colors: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, or red-violet.

Sometimes, however, photographers might use the RGB system–in which case, red, green, and blue are the primaries. Mixing these colors will create secondary colors yellow, cyan, and magenta. The RGB system also has six tertiary colors: orange, chartreuse green, spring green, azure, violet, or rose.

In this brief introduction, we’ll look at six easy ways photographers can use the color wheel and simple “color schemes” to strengthen their compositions. While photographers can certainly use the RGB system, we’ll rely on RYB for right now.

Monochromatic colors

A monochromatic color scheme uses one of the twelve colors on the color wheel with different tints, shades, and tones. You create a tint by adding white to your base color, a shade by adding black, and a tone by adding gray. Photographers can use these schemes to create harmony throughout a composition.

Puchong Pannoi’s photograph of the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar has many layers, from temples to trees to a hot air balloon floating in the distance. While these elements could be distracting in the eyes of another photographer, Pannoi has brought them all together beautifully–with a little help from a monochromatic palette.

Monochromatic color schemes can often be bold. According to photography legend, Ansel Adams was once so displeased upon seeing one of William Eggleston’s most famous monochromatic photos that he remarked, “If you can’t make it good, make it red.” Fortunately, these days dramatic color is not only accepted but embraced–with stunning results. Take a cue from 500px Contributor Estislav Ploshtakov, and use it to make a strong impact.

Complementary colors

For a complementary color palette, use two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel. Complementary color schemes are well-suited for photography because they add contrast–resulting in pictures that “pop” off the page and screen. Here, Da Miane uses complementary colors green and red.

In this street photo from Singapore, Peter Stewart uses complementary colors blue and orange. No need for an overly complex composition–these colors catch our eye all on their own.

Split-Complementary Colors

In this variation on a complementary color scheme, you’ll select your base color, and then instead of using the color directly opposite, you’ll use the two colors on either side of it.

In this colorful photo, Claudio de Sat photographs the blue sky against the architecture of East Berlin’s Plattenbauten buildings. He then incorporates hues closer to red-orange and yellow-orange on the color wheel. The result is a striking and harmonious photo with a little bit less of the dramatic tension we’re used to seeing in photos with complementary colors.

Tetradic colors

A tetradic color scheme, sometimes called double-complementary, features a total of four colors, including two sets of complementary colors. Of the basic color schemes we’ll cover here, this one might be the trickiest to pull off–if only for the fact that it incorporates four colors.

This photo by Alena Haurylik does it brilliantly. By using two complementary pairs (orange-blue, green-red) in moderation, it succeeds in being both eye-catching and sophisticated.

Analogous colors

Analogous color schemes incorporate three colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. Wildlife photographer Jonne Seijdel encountered this dazzling Rwenzori three-horned chameleon while traveling through the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda. In this photo, he was able to include side-by-side colors for a pleasing and dynamic result. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given this example, analogous colors are often found in nature.

When using analogous colors, photographers usually choose one dominant color and then use the others in a supporting role. Designers use what they call the “60-30-10 rule”–meaning that the main color (usually primary or secondary) takes up 60% of the space, while a supporting color (secondary or tertiary) takes up 30%, and the final color takes up just 10%.

This photograph by Jovana Rikalo, appropriately titled Orange Dream, features mainly the color orange, with red and yellow accents.

Triadic colors

A triadic color scheme comprises any three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Like complementary colors, these schemes are vibrant and full of contrast. In the majority of situations, these will be the three primary or secondary colors. 500px Contributor Sabrina Hb’s portrait of a woman and fruit in Colombia might be called Yellow, but those touches of blue and red on the woman’s dress complete the photo–giving it that extra “oomph” and vitality.

Designers generally recommend sticking to the three primary or three secondary colors for that “clean” look. Use too many tertiary colors, and you run the risk of a photo that looks muddy. This landscape by Gunar Streu is another perfect example of color done right because it uses the three secondary colors of the RYB color system: orange, violet, and green.

While color theory might be easiest to implement in the studio, these talented photographers remind us that photographers of any genre, from street to wildlife to architecture, can use it to their advantage. Color is a photographer’s playground. Experiment with different schemes, and see what works best for you. We’ll see you again in part two of this three-part series on color theory.

While color theory might be easiest to implement in the studio, these talented photographers remind us that photographers of any genre, from street to wildlife to architecture, can use it to their advantage. Color is a photographer’s playground. Experiment with different schemes, and see what works best for you.

Stay tuned for part two of this three-part series on color theory.

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Blue Hour Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

Curated Article from Coles Class Room.

Photographers like to talk about golden hour photography and the beautiful, glowy light they find right before sunset or after sunrise.  Golden hour is amazing.  But for my money, you can’t beat blue hour photography for some peaceful, serene images.  Don’t be so hasty packing up your gear after the sun has set.  Stay a little while to enjoy the blue hour!  

Exactly what is blue hour photography and how do you shoot it?  Follow along below for our beginner’s guide on when, what and how to shoot to take advantage of this really cool period of day!

What is Blue Hour?

Blue hour is the period of morning or night when the sun is below the horizon but still casting light into the sky.  The result is a beautiful, cool sky that makes a stunning backdrop for your photography.  Blue hour skies are crisp, cool and full of gauzy shades from indigo to navy with hints of red and pink.

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When is Blue Hour?

The general rule of thumb for blue hour is up to one hour after sunset or one hour before sunrise.  Your blue hour might not last a full hour, though.  Sometimes we only get 20-40 minutes of photography of beautiful blue before the skies turn completely black at night or the sun clears the horizon in the morning.

How long the blue hour lasts and what it looks like depends on your location, season, and the weather.  The best blue hours, in my opinion, occur on nights with few clouds.

Why Should You Shoot Blue Hour?  

Shooting during blue hour has several advantages.  First, blue hour can add more visual interest to your images.  The blue hue of the sky is a more appealing backdrop than a completely black sky, and is a great contrast to electric lights.

Also, blue hour photography helps add creativity to your photo by allowing you to convey motion.  Because there is less ambient light, you can use a lower shutter speed like 1/60, 1/10, 5, or even 30 seconds.  A slow shutter speed lets you convey motion by smoothing out water, creating light trails, or blurring clouds.  Also, you aren’t fighting mid-day or late evening sun.  So blue hour gives you more flexibility when it comes to adjusting shutter speed, aperture, and ISO in dim light.

What to Photograph During Blue Hour Photography

Blue hour is a popular time to photograph lots of different types of images, from portraits to carnivals.  Try shooting any of these images as blue hour photography subjects:

  • Cityscapes
  • Travel images like busy, winding roads or freeways
  • Landscapes like beaches, bridges, wharves, or marinas
  • Fairs, circuses, or carnivals
  • Portraits with suitable ambient light or off-camera flash
  • Moon photography

Want to take scenic landscape and cityscape photography shots like a pro? Check out our landscape photography course!

What Equipment Do You Need for Blue Hour Photos?

To capture your own blue hour photo, make sure you’re ready with the following gear:

  • DSLR or mirrorless camera that shoots in manual mode and RAW.  Your camera should also be capable of shooting in bulb mode to create long exposures.
  • Lenses that matches your intended composition.  A wide-angle lens, such as an 18mm or 24mm, is a great choice for cityscapes and landscapes.
  • Tripod (to stabilize your camera)
  • Flashlight (to adjust settings in the dark)
  • Stopwatch or intervalometer (for a time-lapse photo)
  • Remote shutter release (cable or wireless)
  • Extra batteries and warm clothes if you’re shooting in cold temperatures

How to Capture the Blue Hour

Blue hour photography isn’t a hard concept to master, but it does take some planning and forethought to get it right.  Here are my best tips!

  1. Plan your blue hour photography shoot ahead of time.  Scout out possible locations in the day and know when blue hour will occur for your location.  An app such as PhotoTime or Photopills can help!  Look for locations that have artificial light for interest but aren’t overwhelmed with light pollution.  Too much light in the background dilutes your skies.  You’ll get a sky that’s orange or pink instead of that tranquil deep, dark blue.
  2. Pack your gear ahead of time.  Make sure you have everything you need for a blue hour shoot before you leave the house. You don’t want to find the perfect location and have beautiful weather only to realize you’ve left your tripod at home.
  3. Arrive early to set up your equipment.  Allow plenty of time to set up your tripod, frame your shot, and dial in focus and settings.  I always plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to sunset or 90 minutes before sunrise.  The best blue hues can fade quickly, so you want to be ready to make the most of your opportunity.
  4. Choose your settings based on your goals for the photo.  Slower shutter speeds help create light trails or smooth out water or clouds.  Wider apertures such as f/2.8 or f/1.8 can create beautiful bokeh orbs.  Narrower apertures turn points of light into sun stars.  Prioritize your settings based on what’s most important in your image.
  5. Be patient!  Don’t get in a hurry to start snapping pictures too early!  You want to wait for the moment when the sun has sunk below the horizon at night.  For morning blue hour, you’ll want to wait for the moment when the light turns from black to dark blue.  
  6. If light trails or buttery water/clouds are your goals, shoot in shutter priority mode.  That way the camera will choose ISO and aperture for you, allowing you to focus solely on shutter speed, composition, and timing.
  7. Turn off auto white balance.  The camera gets fooled by the blues and tries to neutralize them, which kind of defeats the point of shooting gorgeous blue skies!  I prefer to use Kelvin instead.  Start in the 6500K range and adjust as needed.
  8. Use a shutter release cable or remote to fire the shutter.  This will make sure you aren’t jiggling the camera and creating blur in your images when you manually press the trigger. If you don’t have a remote or cable, you can also use the timer function of your camera. This lets the camera settle first before firing.
  9. If you’re still getting blur even if using a tripod and remote, try shooting in live view or locking up your mirror.  Occasionally the minor act of your mirror flipping up to expose your sensor is enough to introduce blur into your image.  But if you shoot in live view or adjust your setting to lock the mirror in the up position, the mirror stays in place and helps eliminate shake.  
  10. Remember your other composition rules!  Use the rule-of-thirds where appropriate.  Look for leading lines to accentuate your subject.  Shoot from different angles and perspectives.
  11. Don’t be afraid to experiment!  Try different combinations of settings to give your images a slightly different look and find what YOU like best.  For example, I usually keep my ISO between 200 and 400.  But you might find you really prefer the added grain of ISO 1000 better.  Take multiple exposures with different settings and pick your favorites.  Soon you’ll find your perfect blue hour setting combo!

Post-Processing and Editing Blue Hour Images

How you process your images will vary according to your personal style.  I always shoot in RAW so I have the most flexibility in post-production.  My style is bold and colorful, so I usually add some vibrance, saturation, and contrast to my images from the hour blue.  Split toning helps enhance the color of the sky while keeping natural skin tones. Split toning also ensures you don’t wind up with all blue photos…remember it’s the contrast between blue and the other colors in the scene that add visual interest.  Finally, adjusting the luminosity may give your photo the pop it needs!  Try editing in your typical style first, then tweaking your blue hour images to find a style you best!

Conclusion

Don’t be such a slave to the golden hour that you miss photographing in the blue hour.  It really can be every bit as magical as golden hour and lends a certain tranquil and calm spirit to your photo.  You’ll love the tones and ethereal quality for landscapes, cityscapes and more!

Article written and copied from Coles Classroom.

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