During a few hours of every day the Earth, so humble and unpretentious, sets aside its modesty and like a peacock fanning its wings, displays itself in all its glory. These precious moments during the dawn and dusk are when the sun bathes the earth in gold and orange natural light creating a canvas in which to shoot the most stunning photos.
Photographers often separate the hours of sunrise and sunset into distinct lighting sections. Each section offers its own lighting quality to your subjects and is often referred to as Dark, Blue, Flat, Golden and Bright. In this article, we will focus on the Golden Hour and how its color and abundance of natural light can create art from
The Golden Hour is a fickle thing differing from location to location and depending on the overall condition of the day, and time of the year. In general, however, the Golden hour usually occurs just after the sun rises or just before it sets. Because of its inconstant nature, however, it can be often difficult to shoot and easily missed.
Every location will have its own rules for the Golden hour and may be longer or shorter than an hour, varying by the time of year and the location of the shoot. Shooting in the Golden hour can often mean a great deal of research, stubborn resolve and just a dash of good old luck. However, when these come together oftentimes the most amazing photographs can be taken.
Why is this light so sought after by photographers? The answer is both simple and complex, simply golden light is enchanting, it is soft and warm and unable to be replicated with all the tools in the photographers’ toolbox. Filters, textures, and actions cannot create the enchantment of natural golden light and how it can highlight and bring dimension to your photo subject.
Some of the most popular ways to shoot in the Golden Light are to front light your subject with the natural light. When properly done the gentle golden glow can define and accentuate your subject without the harsh brightness in other times of the day. Another option is to backlight your subject with the golden light and if combined with either rim lighting which creates a soft glow around your subject or flare which uses the light reflecting off your photo lens to create an effect, can make the most stunning pictures.
Whether you are a professional or just out with your family on a hike with the trusty point and shoot, using the Golden hour can turn even the simplest subject into a lovely work of art.