4 Golden Hour Photography Tips

Boys in Dandelions

If you’ve read much about outdoor portraits, you know a lot of us photographers love to shoot during the “golden” or “magic” hour, just before sunset (or right after sunrise).  For practicalities sake, these tips are going to be talking about the hour at the end of the day, not the hour when most people are sleeping…considering that today the morning golden hour would have started at 5:40 am.

If you are wanting to capture this gorgeous light yourself, here are a few tips to get you started.

  1.  Look up the sunset time for the date and location you have planned.  The Time and Date website is great for this, or just type it in your Google search box.  Schedule your shoot 1.5 to 1 hour prior to this time.  In the summer, this is going to be fairly late for families with young children.  Late spring and fall may work better for you.
  2. If your camera allows you to set your white balance, and your subject is between you and the sunset, try starting with a cloudy setting or a temp around 7000 Kelvin.  I know this is somewhat confusing…the sunset is more like 3000 Kelvin, but the light hitting your subject is coming from behind you and is likely a darkening blue sky.Child portraits
  3. Use a reflector to brighten your subject.  This will allow you (or your camera) to expose for your subject while still retaining some detail in the bright skies behind them.  If the sun is still fairly high, position your subject in front of trees or grasses to help block some of the light and create a soft and pretty background.Toddler Portraits in Waterloo, IA
  4. Allow some time after sunset to capture silhouette images while the sky is still streaked with color.  Expose for the sky to throw your subject completely into shadows.Tree Silhouette
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