Photography - Knowledge

Golden Hour Photography: Learn all about The Magical Concept

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Have you seen some pictures that seem just so magical and surreal? Well, that magical thing is the lighting and it is something that can make or break the picture. This lighting becomes incredibly important when you are shooting outdoors. In such situations, it becomes rather important to find out the right time to shoot. This would make your work stand out. But, how can you achieve that? The trick is to know your local ‘Golden Hour’.

golden hour photography definition
The much awaited Golden Hour

What is Golden Hour? Let’s find out.

The one kind of light that makes everything seem just perfect is the golden light. It is warm, soft and unbelievably magical. The beautiful effect that it adds to the pictures cannot be replaced by any filter or textures. If a perfect and mesmerizing picture is what you are looking for, you need to familiarize yourself with the concept of golden hour photography.

What Is Golden Hour

golden hour nature photography
The Magical Hour 

The golden hour is also referred to as the magical hour and is basically the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before the sun sets.

So, why is the golden hour is so magical?

To understand that, let’s look at the golden hour photography definition first. Golden hour is defined as, “That period when the sun lies between the horizon and 6 degrees above.” During these hours, you would notice that the sun is quite low in the sky and thereby produces a diffused and soft light that can make your pictures look magnificent and stunning.

Also, as a photographer, you must be aware of the fact that for any subject, soft light is favorable. This is because it doesn’t create any kind of harsh shadows. Shadows, of course, aren’t a bad thing, but the shadows created during the golden hour can add depth and texture to your subject. You wouldn’t ever be able to achieve this kind of effect by shooting mid-day or with artificial lights.

 Abhishek Deopurkar
Abhishek Deopurkar - An expert with Landscapes in Golden Hour

According to Abhishek Deopurkar, “Landscapes shot during the Golden Hour have more colour in the sky, especially if there are clouds picking up the warm light.”

What is so Good about The Golden Light

Why golden hour is so magical?
A game changer for Outside Photography - The Golden Light

Shooting during the golden hour is one of the best things you can do to your photos; it can be the game changer for your outdoor photography. But, why is so good? Let’s understand this.

  • The Golden Light is Warm

‘Warm’ in photography refers to the color temperature. With this golden light, the blue wavelength is scattered and therefore the light seems to be more of yellow or red. Warmer tones look rather flattering on people as it makes them appear all glowy and gives the pictures a magical effect.

  • This Light During the Golden Hour is Soft

The light at this hour appears softer as it travels more through the atmosphere of the Earth. Soft lights make the object look amazingly pleasing.

  • This Light is Dimensional

The sun, during these hours, remains rather low in the sky and this can produce a directional light. Shadows appear softer and longer and make the whole picture look more dynamic and fascinating.

How to Find Golden Light

golden hour photography
Find the Golden Light

As is quite obvious, the golden light would show up during the golden hour.

The exact time would be dependent on which part of the world you stay. The time of sunrise and sunset varies from place to place and depending upon that you might get less or more time for the golden hour photography. The nearer you live to the equator, the lesser golden hour you would get. You would get a much longer golden hour if you stay further away from the equator. This would also keep on changing each season.

golden hour landscape photography
Overview of What You Need

The easiest way to calculate the time of golden hour of the place where you live is by using the Golden Hour Calculator. The golden hour photography calculator can help you find out accurate times.

However, if you would like to calculate it yourself, you can do so by determining the local sunrise and sunset time. Once you do that, you can easily determine the fact that the golden hour of the day would be just before the actual sunrise and would continue for an hour. Similarly, the second golden hour of the day would be just an hour before the sunset and would come to an end when the sun sets.

Livingit Tip
Get a Golden Hour Calculator app for your phone to know the golden hour timings on-the-go.

How to Shoot During the Golden Hour

golden hour photography
Learn how to shoot in the golden hour

When shooting during the golden hour, keep in mind all of the tips and remember to calculate the exact time of the golden hour in order to get those mesmerizing shots.

The next thing you need to learn is the exact way in which you can shoot during the golden hour. You need to remember that there are two basic directions from which you can shoot: Back and Front.

  • Backlighting

golden hour photography tips
Backlighting Photography

You can place your subject in such a way that the sun remains behind it. By doing so, you would be able to get that wonderful glowy and warm effect in your pictures.

  • Front Lighting

golden hour landscape photography
Front Lighting Photography

For this, all you need to do is place your object in such a way that it directly faces the sun.

This is the perfect time when you can actually do this. It is because people in the object won’t squint and you would be able to get gorgeous shots.

golden hour photography settings
Flare and Rim photography

Other than these, you can also opt for flare and rim lighting. You need to play around with different angles to be able to capture some stunning shots.

Tips for Shooting

golden hour nature photography
Tips for Shooting

Most people often wonder as to how to shoot in the golden hour. Now that you have found out the exact time golden hour of the area you’re shooting in, let us take a look at a few tips that would help you to capture that perfect shot.

  • Making Use of a Tripod

At times, it is possible that your scene is rather dark during the time nearest to sunrise and sunset. But, to miss out on such beautiful textures and colors by expecting it to get lighter when you can actually make an extra bit of effort and capture it; isn’t a good idea. What you can do is set up your camera on a tripod, use a long exposure and set your ISO low.

  • Using a Wide Aperture

Golden hour photography gives you a wonderful chance to shoot with a wide aperture. The bokeh effect that you would get by doing so would leave you, and anyone who looks at your photos, stunned.

  • Adjust the White Balance

Auto white balance is not your friend during the golden hour.

So, always remember to adjust the white balance manually. This is one of one of the important things to remember when you are adjusting the golden hour photography settings.

Livingit Tip

Set your white balance to ‘cloudy’ or to avoid neutralizing the beautiful golden glow.

  • Devote Time for Setting Up

If you have ever experienced it before, you would know that the golden hour, more often than not, starts all of a sudden. For golden hour portrait photography, nature photography, or even golden hour landscape photography, it is therefore essential that you are prepared in advance.

Reach your location well before the golden hour and set up all your equipment and props that you are going to need for the shoot. It might mean that you would have to wake up in the middle of the night but it is all worth the effort that you put in.

  • Continue Clicking Pictures

The lighting changes pretty quickly during the golden hour and therefore it is best to take multiple shots. Even a minute can make a whole lot of difference. So, instead of just clicking 2-3 pictures which might seem perfect, stay for a longer time and click several photos. You would be surprised by the results.

  • Carry a Flashlight and a Warm Flask of Coffee

The golden hours, as mentioned previously, occur at dusk and dawn, when both, the lights and the temperature are relatively lower than the rest of the day. A good flashlight will help you navigate in the dark and help you avoid tripping, especially if you’re shooting in an area with an uneven terrain.

golden hour portrait photography
Carry a Flashlight

And as for the coffee, trust us, you’ll thank us later.

By following all of the above-mentioned golden hour photography tips, you would definitely be able to get some amazing shots.

Of course, shooting during this hour might be a bit troublesome. To capture some quality shots, you will have to either leave the comfort of your warm or cozy bed in the middle of the night or miss out on a fun evening with friends. But, the results that you would get would make it all worth it.

golden hour landscape photography
golden hour photography

To capture the perfect picture, hone your outdoor photography skills, get out there, and keep clicking.

Have you tried golden hour photography before? How was your experience with it? Do let us know.