What is Golden Hour?
Golden Hour occurs when the sun is close to the horizon, shortly after sunrise and before sunset. I guess you could say, that to photographers, it is THE best time to shoot portraits. There is no other time to get such soft, filtered, and warm light to illuminate your subjects. You could almost say that it adds a moment or a feeling to your images.
In the middle of the day when the sun is much higher above, subjects tend to squint from bouncing light, and get unusual and unflattering shadows casting on their faces – typically dark circles around their eyes, and shadows under their noses. This high contrast between the highlights and shadows can make a portrait very unbalanced. Because contrast is less during Golden Hour, it becomes easier to maintain detail in black, and highlights are less likely to be overexposed.
Another benefit to shooting during this magic hour, is more detail in your shadows. With a smaller angle between the sun and the horizon, shadows are longer, and surfaces suddenly have more texture. And if you are shooting with the golden hour sunset behind your subject, the warm glow perfectly illuminates your subject’s hair, adding texture, and detail.
So you’re probably thinking, well the sunrise and sunset change daily…if I want to book my session a month from now, how would I know what time golden hour is going to be? Well, I came across a site called golden-hour.com. You simply plug in your location, and out spits the time of sunrise and sunset. You can then click on their little calendar days at the bottom and you can see the sun graph change simultaneously.
So the next time you’re thinking that it’s time to update the family photos, make sure to book during the Golden Hour. You may need to get up extra early, or keep your kids up past bedtime, but you won’t regret it.