The golden hour is one of those quintessential terms that any photographer need to understand, especially those who are passionate about landscapes, cityscapes, and other photographs that depend highly on natural lighting condition. Let’s be honest, nobody likes to carry around LED light for their shooting. Here’s a shoutout to all the “Natural Lights photographers”, remember that you guys are not alone and we are a strong community!

What is the Golden Hour?

“Golden Hour” refers to the period of time that comes briefly after the sunrise or just before the sunset. Here we can find warm tones and soft light in the sky. Just before sunrise and after the sunset we can find a different type of light which is diffuse and even, some people call this light “the magic hour”.

The span of the Golden Hour will depend entirely not just on the season of the year, but also on the geolocation. And the nature of the light will also depend on the sun’s altitude.

Why do I need to pursue such scarce lighting condition?

The main reason why many photographers love to pursue light, is because stronger lighting conditions, like the ones you can find around midday, produce strong highlights and dark shadows. During the golden hour moment, the contrast is less harsh, shadows and highlights even out in terms of tonality.

About the Color Temperature

Color Temperature is a topic that we can discuss another day, but there is one thing that will be very helpful for you to know. Color has temperature, from cold to warm, and is measured in Kelvin degrees, the same degree scale you find when tweaking come camera’s white balance function. This temperature changes during the day as we move around the sun. During the sunrise and sunset, color temperature can reach as low as 2,000 K. During the famous Golden Hour, temperature warms up a little bit and can reach up to 3,500 K, and around midday, when the light is pretty hard, it can reach up to 5,500 K.

What exactly can I expect for pursuing the Golden Hour?

Have you ever seen those beautiful images with that glowing nature and almost nostalgia quality? But most importantly, what you can expect is soft light for your images. Light is the most important element of any photograph, without it, you would end up with nothing but black frames.

Becca Tarter - Father and Daughter
Credit: Becca Tarter. Shot on Canon EOS Rebel T5, 27mm F7.1.

How to reach the Golden Hour?

Understanding terminology is pretty simple, the tricky part is to anticipate the golden hour. Many photographers have used a simple watch and some observation. Nowadays, we have some tools like the Photographer’s Ephemeris that will not only let you know about the time of the sunrise and sunset for a specific date and location on the world, but will also tell you about the light direction coming from the sun.

Golden Hour Chart

As you can see from the chart above, the Golden Hour happens when the sun is from -4° to 6° below or above the horizon. Keep it simple, don’t rush things and just pursue this beautiful moment that happens each and every single day around the entire planet.

Needless to mention we do have Lightroom presets that are inspired by the Golden Hour. Be sure to check it out from our store!