“Golden Hour” Lighting

Chase “Golden Hour” Lighting


The “golden hour” may be just the ticket for your perfect selfie. If you want to take a flattering picture, you cannot do better than waiting for this famous time of day. Maybe you’ve heard the term “golden hour” before and wondered about its meaning. The golden hour happens every day. In fact, it’s twice each day. It’s the hour leading up to sunset, as well as the hour following sunrise. 

People sometimes call the golden hour the “magic hour.” During the two golden hours each day, you enjoy the ideal light for photography. If you’re a photographer, you already know about the golden hour’s meaning. However, if you are still learning about photography, knowing and understanding the golden hour’s meaning will be an invaluable part of your toolkit.

What Is So Special About “Golden Hour” Lighting?

One of the strengths of golden hour light is how versatile and universally flattering it is. Even if other elements of your photo go wrong, the gorgeous glow of the “magic hour” will soften everything and lend it a sort of halo. The light is imbued with gold at this time of day, which is behind its flattering effect. 

When you take photos during the golden hour, you’re much less likely to end up with underexposure or overexposure. During the golden hour, the light is not only softer. It’s also warm. The warmth of the light means you’re not affected by the harsh quality of blue light. It’s also the directional quality of golden hour light that makes it so perfect. 

What do we mean by this? It’s connected to the sun’s position in the sky. Its low position leads to a more versatile and beautifying type of light. Shadows are always longer and softer, and the atmosphere is more artistic. The quality of the shadows will lend some drama to your photographs while retaining a beautiful effect. You can banish harshness from your photos by taking them during the golden hour. 

If you’ve ever taken a bad photo because of harsh light (for example, in the midday sun), try taking the same kind of picture during the golden hour. You’ll be amazed at the difference. When the sun is high in the sky like it is during the middle of the day, pictures end up with unflattering shadows, and colors will be untrue. 

“Golden Hour” Photography Positioning and Techniques 

While planning your photographs, decide on the way you will use golden hour light. You can use the sun as the front light, backlight, rim light, or sun flare. There’s also a way to make your subject a silhouette in the golden hour. Each of these methods creates its own distinct effects. 

To use the sun as a front light, ask your subject to position themselves so they’re facing the sun. Or if you’re taking a selfie, face the sun yourself. This front light positioning during the golden hour will lend a subtle warmth to your pictures.  Your subject will be crisply distinct yet benefited by soft light. 

With backlighting, you ask your subject to stand in front of where the sun is positioned in the sky. This is perfect for creating romantic, outdoorsy, and whimsical photos. Your subject and background of the photo will be completely infused with golden light, giving you a magical image. 

Rim lighting is yet another technique. This approach is a bit tricker than the techniques we talked about earlier. It gives your subject a flattering and fascinating halo in the photograph. To achieve this, you will need to position your subject in front of a darker background. Once you have achieved that, you will need to try different angles until you reach the halo effect. 

If you want to get a lovely sun flare in your photo, position your subject so that they partly obscure the sun. After that, try moving to different positions and angling your camera in various ways until you achieve a flare in your image. If you find this too difficult, there is another way to try to get a flare. Try to angle your camera so that the sun isn’t in the frame. 

The silhouette effect is perhaps the most creative of the unique techniques you can use during the golden hour. Silhouette photos are the easiest to take as the golden hour draws to a close. Your subject will need to stand so that they are immediately against the sunlight. If you don’t get a full silhouette effect in the resulting image, you can edit afterward to increase the contrast. 

Why is Lighting So Important in Photography? 

It’s impossible to take a flattering and professional-looking photograph without good lighting. But why is lighting so essential? There are many reasons why good lighting is so crucial to beautiful photos. For one thing, light is what creates a sense of space in your pictures. To be a proficient photographer, you must understand light and shadow, and the interplay of these two elements. 

Lighting is often the difference between a gorgeous photograph and a terrible one. Understanding lighting is essential if you want to take consistently good photographs. Golden hour lighting is undoubtedly the best photography lighting you will find outdoors. It’s almost impossible to take a terrible photo outdoors during this time of day. There are so many ways to be creative, as well.  

Plan to Enjoy the “Golden Hour”

If you want to harness the golden hour’s beauty for your photography, you should plan in advance. After all, it only lasts an hour. Get your camera, equipment, and subject ready before the hour begins, so you have plenty of time. 

Hopefully, you now understand the “golden hour’s” meaning and how it can help you shoot some great photos. Using the “golden hour” to make your photos perfect isn’t as simple as going outside and snapping pictures. Yes, you can do that, and the time of day will make your photos more beautiful than they would have otherwise been. But if you are going to make an effort to take pictures during the “golden hour,” you might as well make the most of it.