Essential Tips On How To Shoot During Golden Hour


Golden hour is the time of the day around sunrise and sunset, when the Sun is the closest to the horizon, creating soft, even light. In the world of videography, this is sometimes also referred to as the “Magic Hour.”

shoot during golden hour

Shooting during this time can result in amazing footage, but it does come with its own set of challenges. That’s why timing it right and using proper camera settings can lead to eye-popping visuals and help you stand out from the pack. Here are some essential tips on how to shoot during the golden hour.

1. Get the Timing Right

the right timing

First of all, “Golden Hour” isn’t always a true “hour.” Technically, the golden hour is just after sunrise or just before sunset where the Sun is at its golden form. Secondly, depending on many factors such as the time of the year, your altitude and your latitude, the duration of the golden hour can vary wildly.

It is important for you to understand these factors. Several websites display golden hour information as well as many smartphone apps which can help you determine the exact time and duration of the golden hour for your exact location.

2. Scout Beforehand

good location

The only way to know what your location looks like during the golden hour is to witness it beforehand. Go out and scout both sunrise and sunset to see which looks best. Keep an eye out for the Sun’s path in the sky and look out for any shadow it creates as it rises and sets. Take out your camera and take a look at your settings.

That way, you won’t waste any time figuring out your exposure when you could be shooting. If you can’t reach your destination before shooting, make use of digital tools such as Google Earth that actually show you the Sun’s trajectory and lighting during a given the time of day. Also, be aware of the type of location that you are shooting at. Your approach towards shooting will vary depending on if the location is in the countryside, forest, or an urban area.

3. Setting the White Balance

white balance in golden hour

Probably the most important rule of shooting during the golden hour is to not set the white balance to automatic. If you do set it to automatic, the camera will read your subject and see that there is too much red in the image and try to counter it by inserting bluer.

By doing this, it’s going to neutralize the skin color which will remove the golden color cast by the Sun. Your goal should be to preserve as much of the natural golden hues present at the time that you can. The white balance position to “shade” or “cloudy” is a good starting point.

4. Shoot with a Wide Angle Lens

wide angle lens for golden hour

During the golden hour, the Sun will paint the landscape in colors that are non-viewable for 22 other hours of the day. Don’t confine yourself to a tight frame and shallow depth of field when there are so many compositional beauties to capture. A wide-angle lens has a wider FOV (field of view) than the human eye and is very useful when you want to capture as much as possible.

5. Keep Tools Ready


Keep in mind that the duration of the Golden hour is so limited that you need to take all the preparations ahead of time. This includes keeping your tripods, reflectors, and other shooting equipment ready to go at a moment’s notice. Tripods or stabilizers are great accessories to help keep your shots free of unwanted issues. Since every moment is crucial, it's better to double check for equipment failures than to regret later.

6. Understanding Lighting

understanding lighting

Lighting is an essential element in photography and videography, and learning to use it is of paramount importance. The Sun is going to be your major light source during the Golden hour shooting. There are many ways to take advantage of this light source.

There are many techniques like Front lighting, Backlighting, Rim lighting, Flare, etc. that allow you to take amazing shots using the natural light of the Sun. In this time you are mostly going to take shots of either The Sun or your subject in the light of the Sun. That is why it is important to get a good grasp of these concepts before shooting in the golden hour.

Golden hour can make any dull-looking area look beautiful. Shooting during the golden hour is incredibly beautiful and rewarding if you know what you are doing. And you will also learn a lot about using natural light to your advantage. You can edit your shots later to make them even more beautiful.

You can also outsource video editing work to many online services available now a day. The tips mentioned above will give you a good foundation to get started on using the golden hour properly. With proper practice, patience, and persistence, your shooting skills will improve dramatically. Enjoy Shooting during the golden hour!