Photo Tech An Ultimate Guide For Shooting The Golden Hour Photography

An Ultimate Guide For Shooting The Golden Hour Photography

The Golden hour is a significant term for photography. I think no photographer has not heard about this term. However, the golden hour is not that easy the way we utter it because of its limited time of appearance. The golden hour is precious for photography. So far I have written many photography tips, but I am sure there are very few tips where I have skipped this term. As a photographer, you must have endeavored to capture photographs during the golden hour. Before that, you need to know what precisely the golden hour is, when is the time, how to utilize, etc.

The Golden Hour: What, When, How, etc. 


In this article, I shall discuss the basics of the golden hour. At the end of this article, you will get enough knowledge about it, and I hope you will also be able to utile this teaching for capturing good photographs.

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You should know the utilization of this time accurately, before that you need to know when it starts and ends and how you can find those timings. This article will let you know everything about these.

General Idea


This is firstly not an hour exactly; instead, it’s a period when a type of light appears. What is the kind of light? The color is within the name itself. This color extends to red and orange to yellow or even the golden color. When is the time? Time of the golden hour comes twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Very clearly it can be said that the golden hour comes once after the first light and again before the last-light. How long it remains? As I mentioned earlier that the golden hour is precious also indicates that the period is concise. Usually, it sustains from 40- 60 hours at best. However, this period depends on a few aspects:

  • Elevation of the sun
  • Location
  • Weather condition
  • Presence of particles in the atmosphere around/ Pollution

Special Idea


Let’s go a bit deeper into the golden hour. Before going to the subject, we should know about the whole light distribution terms of the day. Lights are divided into some categories basing on their color, intensity, appearance, the position of the sun, etc. Let’s have a look at those:

MainSubdivision
NameThe angle of Sun from Horizon NameThe angle of Sun from Horizon
From ToFrom To
Nighttime-18°Below
Morning twilights-18°Astronomical Twilight-18°-12°
Nautical Twilight-12°-6°
Civil twilight-6°
Morning magic hours-6°Blue Hour-6°-4°
Golden Hour-4°
DaytimeAbove
Evening magic hours-6°Golden Hour-4°
Blue Hour-4°-6°
Evening twilights-18°Civil Twilight -6°
Nautical Twilight-6°-12°
Astronomical Twilight-12°-18°

the golden hour special idea

Sometimes we amalgamate between the magic hour and the golden hour. The golden hour is a time within the magic hour. There is another component of the magic hour, that is the blue hour.

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From the chart, we can see that magic hour comes twice a day, once in the morning and another in the afternoon. But in the morning the morning hour comes after the blue hour and in the evening the golden hour comes before the blue hour.

Characteristics of the Golden Hour


Here we will discuss the features of the golden hour which are related to photography or the attributes which can be utilized for photography. In this time, the light act like magic. That’s why it is included in the magical hour. Let’s see the characteristics of it:

  • It provides a very soft and diffused light which is always desirable for photography.
  • Besides producing soft and diffused light, it also produces soft shades which create extra beauty to the subject for the photography.
  • The golden hour provides such light which creates a golden outline of the subject.
  • The name itself announces that it produces a golden light which makes magical photographs.
  • During this time, you will get soft flares of the sun which are very desirable for portrait photography.
  • The golden hour also produces a silhouette of the subject which is also desirable for many types of photography.
  • The lights of this time show the direction of the light, that means you will see the ray clearly if it is obstructed by anything.

How Long the Golden Hour Sustains?


The golden hour sustains depending on the location. If the weather is clear, then it continues to average 40 – 50 minutes. But this is not the same everywhere. The sun shines vertically in the equatorial areas and obliquely in the polar regions. So, the time is very short in the equator areas and longer in the polar region.

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In some cases, the golden hour remains up to a week in the polar region. However, using apps and websites, we can very easily find out the length of the golden hour. They will exactly say the start time and the end time of it.

When does it Start?


I have already mentioned that the golden hour comes twice a day once in the morning and another in the evening. The morning one comes after the blue hour, and the evening one begins before the blue hour.

This statement tells that it starts just after the sun rises and just before the sun is seized. So, we usually can say that the golden hour starts after the first light in the morning and just before the last light in the evening.

The golden hour is precious due to its short time availability. Thus knowing the exact time when it terminates in the morning and when it starts in the evening is essential. From the table, we have come to understand that when the sun -4° with the horizon in the morning then the golden morning hour starts and when it becomes 6° then it terminates. Again when it becomes 6° with the horizon, then it starts and at -4° it terminates for golden evening hour.

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But, practically we can not measure the angle of the sun with our conventional equipment. We can if we have those apparatus to determine the real-time angle of the sun. But will be too much for photography.

So the solution is to use some apps or websites which can tell you the real-time position of the sun. At the same time, they will tell you the exact time to start and end the golden hour in your location. http://www.golden-hour.com/ is a website which will show you the time of any position. There is an app called Golden Hour available in play store.

How to Utilize the Golden hour: Tips


Earlier I have discussed the characteristics of the golden hour, now we shall discuss those characteristics by using them in different photography ideas. You can do any photography in the golden hours. Most of the portrait photographers choose this hour for their work. However, we shall discuss some of the photography ideas during golden hour.

1. Take the Flare


The golden hour provides a good flare of the sun. While capturing any photography during this time never miss taking flash of the sun in some of the photos. You can keep the beacon at one corner of the frame, can be placed between two persons or at the back, etc. these are even found coming from the woods in a forest. There are numerous examples to be cited for taking the flares of the sun during this hour. However, ubiquitous photographs are Portrait Photography, Landscape Photography, etc. 

the golden hour flares

2. The Shade


This time gives a soft shade. This soft shade can be of people, tree or anything around. The megastructures of architecture will have a golden color on one side and a magical tone on the other side. Capturing these at the same time will make an excellent photo. However, you can take both the light and shade of your subject at the same time. The soft tone will not make any distortion in the image, instead it will make an outstanding effect on it.

the golden hour shade

3. The Silhouette


Everything physical things give a silhouette during the golden hour. A family portrait can be taken with the silhouette. All the members may hold their hands and stand side by side. You may capture the silhouette of that. This is possible during this time. However, you can shoot anything by taking silhouette.  Searching the internet will give you broad ideas about shooting the silhouette.

the golden hour silhouette

4. The Direction


The golden hour makes directional lights. I am sure that you have seen light rays coming through the treed in the afternoon or morning. Only during the golden hour, the light makes directional beams. So, you may go to a road where there are many trees both the sides, the edge of buildings, windows, forests, etc. for capturing the rays of light. Don’t keep the frame vacant, keep some subject in your frame for making the photo live for this kind of photography.

the golden hour light rays

5. Golden Outline


Usually, the sharp light gives a sharp outline of the subject if the subject obstructs it and you are photographing from the other side of the sun. But, light during this time will make a soft and golden outline of the subject. But the shade or the opposite side of the light will not become too dark. The shadow will not hide the subject. It will just make the subject a bit dark, and the glowing outline will form the subject more magical.

the golden hour golden outline

6. Portraits


This is probably one of the best time to capture portraits. Whatever kind of portrait you want to take like headshot, family portrait, professional portrait, engagement photography, wedding photography, etc. can be captured during this time, and the outcome will always be magical. All the tips are applicable for making portraits during this time. The gentle light with soft shades will make very high-quality photography for sure.

the golden hour portraits

Concluding Thoughts


Light is the main ingredient of photography. Everything about photography is to deal with the light differently. We always want to utilize the best light for any photo. The golden hour is such a time which is usually perfect almost all type of picture. The golden hour will take your photo into a professional level, and this is an absolute statement. But before shooting in the golden hour, you must know about the golden hour and also take the guideline for making the perfect photography at this time. I hope this article will help you in this regard.

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