The Golden Hour

Photo taken at 7:14 a.m.

Sunrise taken at 7:14 a.m.

The Golden Hour refers to the hour before sunset and after sunrise, the first and last hour of sunlight in the day.

The Golden Hour is sometimes called the Magic Hour. And, no wonder. This time of day is simply magical.

It is almost universally agreed among photographers that these are the very best hours of the day to take photos because of the special character and quality of light.

Dramatic changes in light

During the Golden Hours, the atmosphere is often permeated with breathtaking light that adds ambiance, interest and drama to any scene. There can be spectacular variations of colors and hues ranging from subtle to dramatic during the Golden Hours.

Even simple subjects take on an added glow.

Take photos when the opportunity presents itself because the lighting changes quickly and then fades away.

Experiment with camera settings

Photo taken two minutes later at 7:16 a.m.

Sunrise taken two minutes later.

When taking photos with a digital camera during the Golden Hours, experiment using white balance settings other than automatic.

Adjusting white balance can change the overall mood of a photo. Also experiment with some of the automatic scene modes built into your camera such as sunrise/sunset and dusk/dawn.

Arrive on the scene early enough to take test shots and adjust settings. When lighting is low, use a tripod to prevent camera shake.

Related reading: Photographing the sun – Tips about exposure, ISO and other settings for photographing the sun with a digital camera.

To find the Golden Hour in your area, use the The Golden Hour calculator

Sample photos taken during The Golden Hour

Sunrise photo examples by Gail Bjork

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11 Responses

  1. Pama says:

    I am so very glad I found your site through Killer Start Ups site.  While I do make photo buttons for our military troop families, I do not usaully take the photos myself.  Lately I have been asked to do more event work and Basic Training Grad events for family days.  You site has been a god-send to me in so many areas.  I have spent the entire night here reading and trying to get it all down!  Right now I am lacking a long enough telephoto lens and try to correct it with settings.  Your lighting and Golden Hour tips are wonderful!

  2. Robert says:

    Beautiful times a day. Colors are gorgeous!

  3. Andrei says:

    The main difference of the so called “golden hours”, or more rightfully – “golden 10 minutes”, from any other time of day from the photography point of view is that during the sunrise or the sunset we are able to enjoy the highest range of colours – from deep orange on the lit side to the deep purple on the shady side. That increases the colour contrast of the image making it more dramatic.

  4. Rick says:

    I am going to go check out that article right now. :-)

  5. Gail Bjork says:

    Glad you found the information helpful, Maclean. We try to keep it simple as our goal is to help new digital camera users. It’s never to late to rekindle your love for photography. Digital is great. Let us know if we can help. Use the search feature to find topics of interest, or if you have questions, consider posting them in our forum.

  6. Maclean says:

    big,big thanks———–need all the help I can get.60 yrs old now and just got back to photography after 20 years lay off,this time with digital,
    thanks again

  7. Sulina says:

    Nice article and good information. I prefer to take pictures in the first hour in the morning.

  8. Bernard says:

    Good article, but wonderful gallery of examples!

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