The Golden Hours

From the very first episode of this series, I’ve defined Photography as the art of capturing Light. Light is everything in Photography, and without it, there is no such thing as Photography. While studio photography relies on artificial Light 99% of the time, Landscape Photography is the total opposite where one relies on 99% on Nature, whether it is the sun or the moon. By definition Landscape photography is about capturing the beauty of a given Landscape, however, should the Light condition not perfect, you most beautiful scenery will worth nothing. That sounds very dramatic, and it is, but photographers have discovered a formula that somewhat guarantees huge natural Light potential: The Golden Hours.

What are the Golden Hours?

One does not need to be a photographer to appreciate the two magical phenomena on Earth that are the Sunrise and Sunset. With the exception of the Northen Lights, those two moments provide a gorgeous Light we get to experience on our Planet; where magentas, reds, blues, gold interlace one another and transform the least pleasant scenery into a little terrestrial heaven.

When is the exact time for these perfect Hours?

Personally, I usually consider half and hour before and after the official Sunrise time and 45 minutes before and 15 min after Sunset. I have always relied on the forecast website where those times are given (since they change every day).

The colour is not everything

While I introduced the Golden Hours, I mentioned the amazing colours in the sky, but there is more to it than that. The worst part of the day to take exposures is in the middle of the day when the sun is high up in the sky. The reason is, the sun is then facing our location straight, and the beams fall right onto us which leads to very strong harsh contrast which is a no-go when doing Portraiture and even Landscape Photography since the shadows are nearly pitch black. On the contrary, during the Golden Hours, the Light is diffused as the sun beams are not reaching directly the subject which produces long shadows.

Things to consider when shooting during the Golden Hours

If there is one thing I have learnt over the years is that timing is everything. You need to be ready before it’s time. Should one go shooting during the first Golden Hour, a light torch can be very handy? Then the almighty tripod is essential as you will need slow Shutter speeds. I would even recommend the good old release cable. Personally, I use my ND Grad to make sure the foreground remains bright while darkening the sky to revive the multitude of colours. Finally, my advice would be to keep shooting. During the Golden Hours, light is constantly changing, but unlike the rest of the day, the changes are dramatically quick and contrasted. One might see some magenta for only 1-2 minutes before it changes into a more reddish tone. Take as many as you can afford and do not forget to adjust your exposure settings as the time passes.
Shot during the morning Golden Hour
Shot during the morning Golden Hour
Shot during the morning Golden Hour
Shot during the morning Golden Hour
Shot After the morning Golden Hour
Shot After the morning Golden Hour

My final result

The final photograph shot during the morning Golden Hour
The final photograph shot during the morning Golden Hour

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