Most professional photographers agree that the early and later parts of the day are the best times for shooting. If you really want the very best photos, with the warmest, richest and most incredible light, then you really need to know about the golden hour.
The golden hour, otherwise known as the magic hour, is a time period in photography shortly before sunset or after sunrise, during which, daylight is softer and redder due to the sun being higher in the sky.
How does the golden hour work?
During the golden hour, sunlight travels through a greater depth of atmosphere when near the horizon, which really softens the light up. As we know, harsh light can ruin photographs, however the light during the golden hour is much softer and incredibly flattering.
Why is it only an hour?
The term “hour” is used figuratively. Different latitudes and seasons mean there is no clear, defined duration. The lighting is ultimately determined by the sun’s height, and the time it takes for the sun to move over the horizon.
Finding the time of sunset or sunrise is easy enough with a smartphone or newspaper. This will help you calculate when the golden hour will take place. Beware though, places that are nearer the equator may only receive a couple of golden minutes, whereas locations further north, such as California, may receive golden light all day.
Photography basics for the golden hour
Aside from stunning landscape shots, the golden hour can be applied to any type of outdoor photography, including portraits. For the landscape shots, make sure you transport your camera in a dustproof protective case, particularly when trail riding, as you will quickly discover dust tends to get everywhere. The Dave 500 case is a great protective camera case that will fully protect your equipment from dusty environments.
Golden light may not last very long, so if you are not already at your location when the golden hour begins, it’s likely to be over when you get there. If you know where to go in advance, you can prepare yourself in the right way. Get to your location a couple of hours before in order to scout out, set up and get ready.
Use a tripod
It would be a shame to miss out on these incredible textures and colours waiting for it to get lighter. Prop your camera up on a tripod, set the ISO to low and select a long exposure.
During the golden hour, the light constantly changes your scene and can look drastically different in just matter of minutes. Rather than snapping just a couple of shots and going home, stay for the entire duration and capture a variety of effects.
Bring a torch and a hot drink
Depending where you are in the world, dusk and dawn can be dark and cold. A nifty trick to make the most of your golden hour shoot is to take a torch and hot drink along with you! Once the sun has died down, a torch will help you see your way back home or to the car, whilst a hot drink will keep you nice and toasty throughout the shoot.