7 photography tips to make the most out of the golden hour

Have you ever heard about the golden hour?

The golden hour is that time of the day, when the sun is positioned in a way where the colors of the sky look gold… it is when people can stare at the sun without blinking and most importantly it is a beautiful time to photograph.

Here are some great tips for golden hour photography:

1. Find out at what time the golden hour will take place: use an app to determine at what time the golden hour will start.

Normally, I use a very simple app called Sol. Depending on your location it will adjust the time of the golden hour. Depending on the time of the year this will change, but overall the golden hour happens one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset.

2. Plan accordingly: 

The golden hour only lasts around an hour. Make sure to plan accordingly. One way of maximizing your time is to prepare your session by creating a shot list that will make you be more efficient.

3. Make sure to be in a proper geographical orientation

Depending on which golden hour you plan to photograph, make sure you are on the East side of your location when photographing in the morning’s golden hour (also know as blue hour) or on the West if you plan to photograph in the afternoon golden hour.

4. Use white balance cloudy or 6500 K

The most beautiful thing about the golden hour is to achieve that nice warm and orange tone. If you photograph using Auto white balance you may not get the photographs with that nice color. If you photograph in JPEG make sure to set it up before you take the photographs. If you shoot in RAW you may setup the white balance afterwards. If using an editing software such as Lightroom or Photoshop, set your WB around 6500K.

Golden hour Landscapes

5. Photograph with the sun behind your subjects

This will make your images have a nice soft and gloomy look. The trick when doing this is to make sure you expose for your subject and this will overexpose the background. Ideally, you would use spot metering mode.

Golden hour Portraits

6. Play with silhouettes

When photographing around the golden hour, the sky is a beautiful background. Play, by exposing for the sky and having your subjects or skyline as a silhouette. Same as tip #5, you may find useful to setup your camera to Spot metering mode.

7. Play with the light’s dimension

When photographing in the golden hour, you will see long shadows. Include these as part of your composition. It will make the photographs more interesting. Specially in street photography.

Remember, the golden hour is a special time of the day, that will make your photographs have a very unique look. A look that is warm, cozy and interesting. Make the most out of this time and plan accordingly to be able to work around this hour.

If you wish to learn more about golden hour photography, take a look at our Landscape photography class. Also, our Lightroom courses will definitely help you when editing your photographs and making sure to achieve that desired warm look in your images.


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