Shoot like a Pro

The Golden Hour

Written by Gail Bjork

There is almost universal agreement among photographers that the best time of day to take photos is during the Golden Hours. To capture a glow in your pictures, learn more about these magical times of day.

Photo taken at 7:14 a.m.

Sunrise taken at 7:14 a.m.

The Golden Hour refers to the hour before sunset and after sunrise, the first and last hour of sunlight in the day.

The Golden Hour is sometimes called the Magic Hour. And, no wonder. This time of day is simply magical.

It is almost universally agreed among photographers that these are the very best hours of the day to take photos because of the special character and quality of light.

Dramatic changes in light

During the Golden Hours, the atmosphere is often permeated with breathtaking light that adds ambiance, interest and drama to any scene. There can be spectacular variations of colors and hues ranging from subtle to dramatic during the Golden Hours.

Even simple subjects take on an added glow.

Take photos when the opportunity presents itself because the lighting changes quickly and then fades away.

Experiment with camera settings

Photo taken two minutes later at 7:16 a.m.

Sunrise taken two minutes later.

When taking photos with a digital camera during the Golden Hours, experiment using white balance settings other than automatic.

Adjusting white balance can change the overall mood of a photo. Also experiment with some of the automatic scene modes built into your camera such as sunrise/sunset and dusk/dawn.

Arrive on the scene early enough to take test shots and adjust settings. When lighting is low, use a tripod to prevent camera shake.

Related reading: Photographing the sun – Tips about exposure, ISO and other settings for photographing the sun with a digital camera.

To find the Golden Hour in your area, use the The Golden Hour calculator

Sample photos taken during The Golden Hour

Sunrise photo examples by Gail Bjork

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.