What is the ‘Golden Hour’ and How Can You Make the Most of It?
A few months ago, Swedish photographer Tobias Hägg spent a midsummer morning on the banks of the Li River in China. Accompanying him was a local cormorant fisherman, who had journeyed through the night to watch the sunrise.
After much waiting and anticipation, Hägg wondered if the long trip was worth it—or if it had been in vain. “All of a sudden, I see a tiny light on the river,” he remembered later. “What comes after is just amazing.”
In photography, the “golden hour” adds romance and mystery, but we often overlook the hard work that goes into creating a shot like this one. Golden hour photographers wake up before dawn and stay out late into the night—all to capture a single moment of magical sunlight.
The golden hour varies based on your location, but it always happens shortly after sunrise and just before sunset—when the sun is low. As the sun reaches the horizon, the atmosphere filters out blue and violet light, leaving behind an orange glow.
For our purposes, the “golden hour” describes any portion of the day or night when the sun sits between four degrees below and six degrees above the horizon. If you live on the equator, it could come and go in a matter of minutes—the farther you travel to either pole (north or south), the longer your golden hour will be.
While the golden hour is notoriously unpredictable, here are a few concrete steps you can take to make the most of it.
Download an app
The local weather forecast is a great starting point, but you need more detailed information if you want to get the most out of your golden hour shoots.
Apps like PhotoPills, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, Sun Surveyor, and SunCalc, provide accurate, up-to-date information on astronomical events—and their implications for photographers—all catered to your exact location.
Scout your location…
Take as many trips to your location as you can, and study how the light falls. Take a few test shots, and then go home and make notes. You’ll return with a better understanding of the terrain and how it behaves in different conditions.
…and arrive early
If you know you’ll have just thirty minutes of perfect light, build in some extra time to set up and prepare. You won’t want to waste any of those precious moments fixing your tripod or scrambling with your camera settings.
Article written by 500px.com.