Every photographer dreams of the golden hour; those moments when you can get the best image quality without as many difficulties. During Golden Hour, the weather is perfect and you’ll be able make the best of your images.
When is Golden Hour?
Despite being popular among photographers, most people don’t know exactly when golden hour takes place; it is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour of light just before sunset. This is a very short period of time and your precise golden hour will depend on your geographical location and the current season. These two windows are perfect for any type of photography due to the sun’s positioning relative to what you are photographing. Sun produces more soft, diffused light, which is considered one of the best canvases any photographer can work with. Another benefit of this time is that it does not create harsh shadows and can be very dynamic-range friendly. Overall, your image won’t feature harsh shadows or blown-out highlights. Additionally, golden hour usually cast a warm color temperature on your image and you can enhance it or correct it during post-processing, especially if you adjust your white balance to cloudy. This warm color temperature can make your image look more creative and beautiful.
In this situation, your subject is facing the sun and the lighting available during the golden hour will cast a very warm feel to your image. This can be achieved since the sun is not positioned directly above your subject. Therefore, the subject will not be affected by the intensely bright light. This period makes the lighting situation easy to photograph.
Just like the name sounds, it is opposite of front lighting and means that the sun is behind your subject. The golden hour will create warm, soft, and hazy lighting situation if you are photographing during this period. Tip: Make sure you expose for your subject’s tones.
This is one of the best features of golden hour. During this period, the sun is positioned in such a way that it creates a halo around your subject. This halo is more pronounced when it is placed on a dark background. You don’t have to wait until the sun is behind your subject to achieve this effect; as long as you have a dark background, you can move around until you find that special spot to achieve the halo effect (you can start by shooting from a lower camera angle).
A sun flare (or lens flare) occurs when the light hit your lens. It is worthy to note that different lenses render different flare types. If you want to achieve a flare, you will need to move your lens around until the light comes through the viewfinder. You will have to move your lens in such a way that your subject is only partially covering the sun since the sun is not at its peak height during this time. You may also need to move around in order to find the best angle to create a sun flare. Also, you can position your camera and lens in such a way that the sun is just out of the frame.
Silhouettes are another beautiful effect you can achieve during golden hour. This effect involves having a subject that is completely black without detail against a bright background. You can achieve silhouettes mostly when the sun is near the end of the golden hour. To achieve this effect, you will have to photograph your subject directly against the light. Additionally, you may need to add some contrast during the post-processing of your image.
There’s a lot you can achieve during golden hour to create a breathtaking image. Just remember that you’ll need patience, timing and adequate preparation to achieve amazing results.