What is Earth Hour?

Why is Earth Hour important and what are the benefits to photographers?

Put simply, Earth Hour is a grass-roots environmental movement that engages millions of people on the last Saturday of March in order to highlight the need for urgent environmental action.

The concept began in Sydney in 2007 as a symbolic event to draw attention to climate change, but has grown to encompass more than 180 countries.

In that time, and as the climate crisis has grown ever more pressing, Earth Hour has outgrown its original symbolic purpose to push for greater public awareness of the threats to biodiversity and for legislative action to combat them.

Why is Earth Hour important?

Earth Hour points out that the rate of loss of nature in the past 50 years is unprecedented, and that nature provides us with food, water, clean air and other services that are worth $125 trillion a year. It says that nature is our biggest ally against the climate crisis, and 2021 provides us with a massive opportunity to bring pressure to bear on a number of vital global conferences and forums that will set the environmental agenda for years to come.

And pandemics such as the one we’re currently living through will happen again, it argues, unless we reverse the loss of nature and habitat destruction that threatens the planet’s biodiversity.

This official 2021 Earth Hour video

When is Earth Hour 2021?

Earth Hour 2021 takes place from 8.30 pm (wherever you live) on Saturday 27 March. This year the movement is pressing for a first-ever ‘virtual lights out’. Earth Hour will post a video on all its social media pages for everyone to share far and wide. The ultimate goal is to spread the message and make it the most watched video in the world!

Earth Hour 2021

What opportunities does Earth Hour present to photographers?

Earth Hour has also put together a list of 20-plus things you can do to support the movement, and this is where opportunities arise for photographers who are stuck at home because of the pandemic.

Apart from urging people to switch off their lights for 60 minutes, Earth Hour suggests some fun ideas for people to get involved with at home:

  • Having dinner in the dark, lit only by candlelight
  • Planning an evening of board games
  • Staging a themed movie night
  • Camping in your back garden or living room - and if you don’t have a tent, making one with bedsheets, pillows and other everyday items
  • Holding a silent disco
  • Trying yoga in the comfort of your own home.

Some of these ideas can make for really interesting photography projects, especially at a time when we’re having to stay indoors. Why not get creative for Earth Hour 2021 and help share the message of a great cause?

Low-light photography ideas and settings

Best settings for low-light photography

Low-light photography can take a bit of experimenting with different techniques to get right.

Getting involved in Earth Hour creates a great opportunity for photographers to experiment with low-light photography. Capturing darkened scenes in low-light can give your images a real sense of poignancy.

What settings should you use for low-light photography?

To get the best results for low-light photography, you need to embrace the manual settings on your camera. Keep the shutter speed to a fraction of whatever your focal length is. So, for a 30mm lens, use a shutter speed of 1/30.

Using AF Assist in low-light

In the darkness, you’ll probably find it hard to focus without much light. Most digital cameras and DSLR’s will come with an AF Assist light at the front of your camera to help you focus in low-light. If you don’t have an AF Assist light, then you may want to work with some external light.

What is the right ISO setting for low-light photography?

The tricky thing to navigate with low-light photography is the choice between noisy photographs and blurry images. Most times, you’re going to want a noisy image over a blurred one, so choose a high ISO setting to help. Remember, noise can be reduced in the post-editing stage, but blur can’t.

How can you take part in Earth Hour?

You can share your images and gain some exposure during Earth Hour using the hashtag #EarthHour and tag @EarthHourOfficial on Instagram, @EarthHour on Facebook and @EarthHour on Twitter.

Alternatively, you can inspire others to get involved by posting a photo of yourself on Instagram with the hashtag #VoiceForNature or add the hashtag to an existing picture, explaining in the caption where you’re from, why nature is important to you and what you’re doing to protect the planet. Earth Hour will feature these stories on its website and its social media pages.


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