Lighting is one aspect that can either make or break a photograph more than any other element. A photographer might capture an incredible portrait or landscape model. Without the right quality of light, the photograph remains dull and flat. This is particularly true in outdoor photography, which relies on natural light, and artificial lighting cannot create magic. The solution to the natural lighting issue is referred to as Golden Hour Photography, the magic hour that photographers swear by.
What is the golden hour in photography?
Also referred to as the magic hour, it is the first light hour after sunrise, and also the last light hour before the sunset. Depending on the seasons, the exact duration of the light varies. During such circumstances both after the sunrise and before the sunset, the sun is positioned low in the sky, rendering diffused, soft light, which seems better for photography when compared with the midday sun.
The golden hour light generates lesser contrast, which eliminates the chances of losing elements of subjects in shadows and blown-out highlights. Furthermore, the warm glow during the magic hour incorporates a pleasing feel, adding depth and texture to the images. There is yet another advantage of clicking images during the golden hour. Generally, there are fewer people around at dawn and dusk, allowing people to click pictures at peace.
Using the golden hour rule
The golden hour rule in photography can be applied to any kind of outdoor photography. Apart from city scenarios, and landscapes, the golden hour also works well for outdoor portrait images, including shots of cars, flowers, even buildings, etc. Professional photographers swear by the golden hour rule. Several photographers refuse to shoot outdoors at any other time other than the magical hour. There are valid reasons for experienced and professional photographers choosing to shoot either during dawn or dusk.
Calculating the magical hour
The easiest and the simplest method of calculating the times of two regular golden hours is through the use of the golden hour calculator. It might be a bit complicated in understanding, but aids in producing precise times. Several photographers seek the help of online sunrise and sunset calculators and find out the local times for sunrise and sunset. The simple calculation of finding the golden hour during the day is to understand that it begins just before sunrise and carries on for an hour. Furthermore, the second golden hour of the day starts around an hour just before sunset.
Tips for the golden hour photography
Once a person has decided on the subject and timing of shooting, he/she is ready to roll the camera and click some amazing pictures. But several tips must be followed to ensure things are executed smoothly, utilizing the time professionally.
The use of a tripod
During the sunrise and sunset times, there will be a dark surrounding. But missing out on textures and colors during the transition time and waiting to get lighter surroundings will be a big loss. Henceforth, it is recommended to set the camera on a robust tripod and set up the ISO low and seek long exposure.
Plenty of setup time
The golden hour starts all of a sudden, thereby being prepared is essential. Experts recommend that the photographer must reach the shooting location with plenty of time in hand. This enables him/her to be ready beforehand.
During the golden hour, the light transits rapidly, and scenes appear vastly distinct from one another, even clicks after a few minutes. Instead of shooting a couple of shots and heading home, it is better to stay for the entire time and capture a range of effects during the magical hour.
Carrying a hot drink and a torch
During the times of dawn and dusk, it is dark and cold outside. Carrying a cup of hot drink allows the photographer to withstand the bitter cold waiting for the shits. Similarly, carrying a torch helps the photographer to map out the path of the photography location under the dark sky.
Rapid transition in the light
The photographers are in a time crunch during the golden hour more than any other time of the day. What will occur in the next five minutes will be different from what has already occurred a few minutes back. The golden hour is similar to a short window after which the sun goes below the horizon and there is harsher light after sunrise. It is important to have an idea of the shooting beforehand.
Preparing for the golden hour shoots
Planning the shoot
It is always better to pick up a location before and also set up the compositions so that the maximum time can be utilized for the golden hour photography. Browsing through the works of other photographers is helpful as well to get a clear idea about the same.
Take multiple shots
The light changes every minute even before one realizes it. Thus, it is suggested to shoot as many frames as possible, so that there are a lot of options to work with.
Going beyond the golden hour
Once the sun sets during the second golden hour of the day, there is the blue day. There is nothing wrong with clicking a few shots during the blue hour as well.
The use of apps
Several applications/apps are available that list the sunrise and sunset times precisely at a given place. Using the golden hour calculator apps, the photographer doesn’t have to do the guesswork of the golden hour and waste time. One can seek accurate information about the same.
The concept of golden hour photography is widely accepted and practiced around the world among professionals. It is one of the practical tips that make a huge difference in the quality of outdoor photography. Every experienced photographer vouches for the golden hour rule, even when it means sacrificing a good night’s sleep and preparing for shoots at midnight. It can completely transform the essence of photography. When one follows the practical tips of golden hour, he/she can capture beautiful and professional shots every time.