36 : Golden Hour

golden hour header image.jpg

When Magic Happens...

"Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you."

~Walt Whitman

Golden Hour, also known as Magic Hour, is the time shortly after sunrise or shortly before sunset. It is a favorite time for photographers to shoot outside because the low angle of the sun in the sky results in long shadows, soft highlights, glowing backlight and warm skin tones. This special quality is caused by sunlight being diffused by particles in the air when the sun is near the horizon.

golden hour graphic.jpg


Magic hour is not actually magic, and it’s not actually an hour. To determine when magic hour will occur each day, input your location and the date into a nifty online timetable such as golden-hour.com. In most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, late summer is the ideal season for playing around with magic hour. It is still warm outside and the timing of sunrise and sunset fit in with daily life.

golden hour 2.jpg


For this assignment, you will have to plan ahead a little more than usual since there are only minutes each day for creating images Don’t let this be a deterrent! Planning does not need to interfere with your ability to capture spontaneous moments. Some photographers actually prefer to have a set timeframe to work with. After determining when Golden Hour occurs in your location, think about what images you can create at these times.


Once you've determined the best time and location to capture your golden hour images, head out with your children and get started! Don't be discouraged if it takes you some time to get the hang of it.

Try keeping the sun at different angles behind your subject (directly behind, a bit off to the left, or a bit off to the right) to see what works best. Be sure to check your images as you go to check that there's not too much flare. Check out the tips and tricks below for some pointers on how to master shooting during this stunning time of day.


Tips & Tricks

  • When shooting toward the sun, use a lens hood to stop extra light from reaching the camera sensor and blowing out your shot. If you do not have a lens hood, rest your hand or a piece of rigid cardboard on top of your lens extending out a few inches.
  • Look for wide open spaces where the sun is not obstructed. Some easy options are big fields, school playgrounds, parking lots, and sidewalks or streets that run east/west.
  • Be ready to shoot before Magic Hour actually starts. Prepare your camera or your subjects in advance.
  • It may sound obvious, but keep an eye on the local forecast to know your best chances for upcoming sunny days!

Share your images!

As always, we look forward to seeing your images in the Facebook group! If you have never posted a picture, it's fine to start any time.

The Facebook group is a positive, no-judgement zone. We also hope that reach out for advice or help if you need it... our moderators are ready and willing to share their knowledge!