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Golden Hour Photography

Golden Hour Photography

One of the secrets of great photography is lightning. Outdoor lighting is the most difficult because photographers can not control it like in a studio environment.Depending of the subject photographers use reflectors and flashes for outdoor portrait photography for example trying to blend in that artificial light with the natural light without making it to obvious.The sun is the most powerful tool that photographers can use to create outstanding results both in portrait photography and in landscape photography.Though you can have a certain amount of control when shooting portraits, by adding reflectors, lights, flashes, and so on, in a landscape scene situation photographers don’t have any lightning control and work only with the available light.

High noon is the worst time to photograph outdoors, also the time of the year has an impact on how the light is cast based on how low in the sky the sun is. The light at noon usually creates harsh shadows. That doesn’t mean that beautiful landscapes and portraits cannot be created at that time, depends on the photographer and the tactics that he uses. Basically anytime is “acceptable” to shoot. Photographers usually tend to choose The Golden Hour or Magic hour for portrait photography and landscapes.
So what is The Golden Hour and at what times and why photographers choose it?The Golden Hour occurs twice a day, once before the sun rises and before sunset.Depending on your position from the sun you can create silhouettes as in this image for example.

Copyright: Tudor Catalin Gheorghe

The Golden Hour light is soft when the sun is at the horizon reducing the intensity of direct light and has more depth.This light is perfect for portrait photography and many photographers use it in different ways.The color temperature of the light is warm and contain more orange reds and yellows and less blue.The weather is also important the light will not be the same if there are clouds covering the most of the sky and or the sun.Usually The Golden Hour lasts almost one hour before the sun starts to set.For example for my area, in Sweden in October, the golden hour begins at 17:00 and it ends at 18:30, sunset starting at 18:00 having an hour of this light. Taking photos in this light situations can be easily done by just hand-holding the camera depending of your subject and the lens, the aperture that the photographer uses.If photographers use slow shutter speeds, by holding the camera in hands, it will affect in motion-blurred images since the exposure times are longer.

The Golden Hour 3
Copyright: Tudor Catalin Gheorghe

Everything looks good when shooting at Golden Hour. There’s almost nothing that can’t fit well in this light. Now you know why photographers choose these hours to shoot landscapes, portraits and other subjects.Regardless of the subjects photographs taken in golden hour have a dramatic or emotional feel to it.

Basic settings shooting during The Golden Hour
  • White balance

Since most of DSLR cameras are using RAW this step can be adjusted in post processing.If not and the image is taken in JPEG is a good idea to switch the camera from auto white balance, to cloudy or shade.Auto white balance will tend to reduce the warmth of the image.

  • Use a tripod

Using a tripod will give you more choices of apertures to work with and will also reduce chances of the photograph ending up blurry since you might have longer exposure periods.

  • ISO ( sensor sensitivity )

Increasing the ISO comes with a cost if you are much into aesthetics because this will increase the amount of noise in the image depending on what number the ISO is.Increasing ISO will give you a boost in light, usually a larger aperture is used depending on your subject.If you want a longer exposure, camera will be set to a smaller aperture and a lower ISO.

  • What time

There are a lot of smart phones applications that can calculate based on your area at what times the Golden Hour occurs.Practicing shooting at this times can improve your photography.

The Golden Hour 1
Copyright: Tudor Catalin Gheorghe
Tudor Catalin Gheorghe

As a photographer, my goal is to create beautiful imagery. I discovered that I can’t stop learning. It’s always something new that you can learn in photography. In my journey, I hope that I can teach others a few little things about photography and photo editing. I’m the author and the creator of this website.

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