January 24, 2013

Photography Tips: Golden Hour

Have you all heard about the outdoor photography window called golden hour? It's the timeframe leading up to and after each sunrise and sunset where outdoor lighting is supposedly at it's very best for taking photographs of anything or anyone. The sky fills with beautiful golden tones, shadows and brightness become golden, diffused and dreamy instead of harsh — and shooting during this window can help you capture some of those radiant sun soaked images we all know and love.

Having just learned about golden hour ourselves, Tim and I took the camera for a short walk around our neighborhood last weekend on the tail-end of a Richmond sunset to see what we could get:


There's definitely a more diffused, golden, and effortless quality in the shots we took on our little walk — it will be fun to try shooting more during this window.

We also snapped a few silly shots of each-other since they say this window of outdoor light is the best for getting good portrait shots free from harsh shadows and crazy looking skin tones:

He's obviously the bigger ham between the two of us.  I think he was making dramatic superhero hand motions while saying something like, it's the golden hour of power. Yep, just remember, he's all mine.

But yeah, gotta admit the lighting worked really well in these shots — not too bright, shadowy or dark. Pretty neat!

Now that we know about golden hour, it's been fun looking at photographs on wedding blogs and professional photography sites, realizing how many of the shots were taken during this little magic light window of opportunity.

Here are a couple golden hour snaps of the NYC skyline during sunrise and sunset we captured on our phones while in the city this week:

Nothing stunning yet, but we're having fun getting the hang of it. I'm thinking it could be interesting to try some jewelry shoots for the shop during golden hour to see if the quality of photo gets any better. It might also be a good photography window for those shooting clothing, fashion accessories or larger pieces outdoors.

While reading through a recent photography post on Sincerely Kinsey in my reader, I found out about a cool app called Magic Hour that takes your location and automatically counts you down to the next time-frame for golden hour. Once you're in the golden hour window, it tells you how much time you have left and you can even set up alerts within the app to have your phone give you reminders when each new sunrise/sunset is approaching. The best part? It's completely free. Tim and I have been having fun with this app — acting all overly dramatic and saying things like: T-Minus 10 minutes until GOLDEN HOUR! Yes, we are that cheesy.

Speaking of cool photography apps, Tim came across Afterglow — we both downloaded it and have been having fun playing around with all the different options. It has a lot more editing functions over the regular iPhone camera (like straightening, cropping shapes, etc.) and several different filter options to play around with. We're still getting used to it but it's also been something fun to play around with this week.

What photo apps, editors and new-to-you photography tips are you loving these days? Did you already know about golden hour? We'd love any tips you have for shooting in great window of light.


  1. I love the second shot of the brick wall and I too love the golden hour. I don't tend to plan for it, but if I see it, I will drop almost everything to go and play with the camera!

  2. Heya! I just recently downloaded the app for tracking down golden hour. I have known about it for a while, but not exactly timed to go shoot during this time (even though I especially love morning light; but always seems to be TOO early, lol). Anyhow I plan on catching the golden hour more often in the future. ;)



  3. We make an iPhone and Android app exactly for this purpose! It provides you with the times for Golden Hour, Blue Hour, Sunrise/set, Moonrise/set as well as moon phase, weather, GPS information and so much more.

    Check out "GoldenPic" at http://goldenpic.jebsapps.com/app/

  4. I learned about this phenomenon from a National Geographic photographer about 1980. Look for cloud cover and when the sun is shining horizontally through the cloud at sun-rise or -set, the cloud diffuses the sunlight into an amazing shadowless 'everything is alight!' moment. Don't blink! It doesn't last very long! Next phenomenon: The Green Flash! seen at sunset when you can see all the way to the horizon without clouds. *-Immediately-* after the sun sinks below the horizon, only the green light can bend around the curvature of the earth. Emerald!

  5. I planned our beach wedding so that it would coincide with the golden hour, and our photos are flawless. This is my favorite time of day.


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