The term “golden hour” professional photographers call the time of day with the most favorable lighting. Light is a very important aspect of photography. You can capture the most stunning landscape or model, but without the right lighting, you get a flat, boring and inexpressive picture.
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When shooting outdoors, it is impossible to use artificial lighting to illuminate the subject and you have to rely on natural light. That is why it is important to choose the right time for outdoor shooting. Fortunately, professionals and amateur photographers have found an excellent solution to this problem since the advent of the first camera – the so-called “golden hour”.
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What is the golden hour?
The “Golden Hour”, also called the “magic hour”, is the first hour before sunrise and the last before sunset, although the exact duration of this time period depends on the season. At this time, the sun is low in the sky, giving a soft diffused light, more favorable than harsh daylight, in which many of us are used to shooting. The scattered light reduces contrast and makes the picture more pleasant, and long shadows help emphasize details, giving the photo texture and depth. In addition, at sunset and dawn there are usually much fewer people, which makes it possible to shoot in a more relaxed atmosphere.
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When the golden hour rule applies
The golden hour rule can be used for any shooting in open space. In addition to landscapes and cityscapes, this rule is great for portraits, plants, and even cars. Professional photographers strongly believe in this rule, some even adhere to it so strictly that they refuse to shoot at any other time of the day. You do not need to be so principled, but remember that you should heed the advice of experts, as a rule, these people know what they are doing.
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How to determine the golden hour
The easiest and fastest way to calculate the most favorable hours for shooting is to use the Golden Hour Calculator. In this program, the “golden hour” is determined using more complex algorithms than those described above, however, it is easy to use and offers very accurate data. If you prefer to determine the “golden hour” on your own, pay attention to the local sunrise-sunset time, you can use the online identifier for this. Next, you need to make simple calculations: the first “golden hour” begins before sunrise and lasts almost an hour, the second – about an hour before sunset and ends almost immediately after it.
IPhone photographers can take advantage of the wonderful Golden Hour One app.
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Having chosen the time of shooting and the subject of the photo, do not rush to grab the camera and run for great pictures. Before that, pay attention to a few tips that will help you to shoot perfectly and most effectively manage the allotted time.
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Use a tripod
In the period closer to dawn or sunset, the street will be quite dark, but it would be rather a shame to miss the incredible shades and textures, waiting for the street to become brighter. Mount the camera on a tripod, select a low camera sensitivity and use a slow shutter speed.
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Take the time to install the camera
The “Golden Hour” begins quite unexpectedly, so you should prepare for the shooting in advance. Come to the location with a margin of time, even if you have to wake up in the middle of the night.
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During the golden hour, the lighting changes quite quickly and within a few minutes the shooting scene may take a completely different look. Do not go home with one or two photographs, but continue to take pictures to capture the full range of lighting effects.
Stock up on a flashlight and a hot drink
In the predawn and pre-sunset hours it is often quite dark and cold. These are obvious things that many people forget about, especially if they go on set in the middle of the day. Take along a flashlight that will help you navigate in space, and a hot drink will save you from the cold while you wait for the right moment for a photo.