Golden Hour: What is it and How to Make the Most of It in Your Photos

If you hear the Anglophile word Golden hour what does the mean golden houryou may not know at first what photography has to do with it, or why so many photographers chase it around the globe.

But what you surely know is that there are times of the day that have a magical light. Magic for painters, photographers and filmmakers, but also for ordinary people. Moments in which the shadows lengthen and the sun envelops everything around it in a warm tone. Magical moments that happen before sunset and a little after. Or unique moments when we wait to see the sunrise.

Those magical moments that represent the end of the day or the beginning of the beginning of a new one, we know them as Golden hour. But not only that, the magic also lies in those moments when the sky turns an intense blue just after sunset or just before dawn. That is known as the Blue Hour.

As a photographer, they will be your best allies when it comes to natural light. What else do you want to know about the Golden Hour and the Blue Hour? Well pay attention, because in this article we will talk about:


What is the Golden Hour?

The Golden hour They are the moments before sunrise or immediately after sunset. In these minutes the light is soft, warm and diffuse, which makes it one of the best times to photograph.

The Golden Hour can also be found under the name of golden hour or magic hour.

Characteristics of the Golden Hour

The golden or magic hour as some prefer to call it, has some precious characteristics that, as loving photographers and aware of the importance of light, do not go unnoticed:

  • It is a warm light, with yellow, orange or pinkish tones.
  • The light it projects is soft and diffuse.
  • It has a lateral orientation.
  • The shadows are elongated.
  • Increase the textures.
  • Create a magical atmosphere.

What time is the Golden Hour?

The golden hour It occurs twice a day, when the sun is low, approaching the horizon, and also moments before sunrise. In both cases, the sky is tinted with those wonderful and photogenic warm tones, making these moments one of the most precious in photography.

Now, the exact time depends on many factors, from the location of the country from where you want to photograph, to the time of year in which you are. Depending on your location, the Golden Hour can last a few moments or several hours, so it is very important to find out the duration and time of sunset where you are, especially if you are traveling.

Apps like Photopills They are very useful to plan the exact moment and the best place to be to get impressive sunsets or sunrises, but also the moonrise, the milky way and many other applications.

When is the Golden Hour in Spain?

The Golden Hour even within the same country can vary from place to place, so it is essential that you find out exactly the best time.

on this website you can meet the golden hour in Spain or in any town where you are. Simply fill in the field with the place you are interested in, add the date, and then it will give you the Golden Hour for both sunrise and sunset, as well as the duration of it.

Great, isn’t it? 🙂

When is the Golden Hour in Mexico?

You can also find out about the Golden Hour in Mexico through this same website. Put the city you want to search for, the date and voilayou already have your Golden Hour located.

When is the Golden Hour in Argentina?

If you live or travel to Argentina and want to find out when the golden hour is, follow the same process. Put in the search engine of this website the place you want to analyze and next to it the date. Hit “Go” and it will update you at what time the Golden Hour starts and ends as well as its duration.

Tips for shooting portraits in the golden hour

Since the light emitted in those last few moments before sunset is so soft and warm, it’s easy to integrate it artistically into your images with just a few tricks.

Golden hour portraits

Select the place previously

If you’re going to do a portrait session, it’s important to think ahead about where you’re going to do it. This way you can anticipate in advance the best place to stand, see where to place your model, predict where the sun will rise or set, etc.

Help yourself with a reflector

The light that the golden hour transmits is very soft, making it easier to “control” than harsher lights. Many times you will not need more than that precious light, to obtain impressive portraits, but it does not hurt to take some help to have more freedom when framing or positioning your model.

The shadows

The shadows at the end of the day are also characteristic of the golden hour. Since the position of the sun is very horizontal, the light creates long and soft shadows that you can integrate into any of your compositions.

Don’t run away from the flares

You usually get desperate if you forget the parasol at home. Normal, many times the light sneaks through the most inopportune cracks and turns our great image into an image ready for the bin.

However, in the golden hour, these flare they can provide you with a artistic touch in your portraits Don’t forget the parasol at home, but try leaving it in your backpack for a while, let’s see what happens 😉

photography silhouettes

It all depends on the exposition, and there is seldom a correct or incorrect exposure to take an image. The vast majority of times it depends on the result you want to obtain.

By exposing for the bright areas of your image, you can get gorgeous portraits of silhouettes surrounded by warm colors typical of the golden hour.

Silhouettes in the golden hour

Find the best light

Don’t limit yourself to one pose and one angle of light. Move your model, find the best angle, the best light and the best composition.

Do not settle, be original, scroll to find the image you want, because a small variation in any of the above aspects can mean two completely different images.

The time that suits you best

If what you want is self-portrait, the Golden Hour is all advantages. It is the time that suits you best, even though you may not usually appear much in photos 😉 . So for once you do it, do it right and take advantage of these magical moments to get impressive self-portraits.

Not everything is exterior

Many times we have talked about portraits in interiors and the “trick” of looking for natural light sources by approaching windows or doors. For the warm light of the golden hour, it couldn’t be less. We always say that it is the best time to photograph and, by now, you know that it is true 😉

Want some extra tips for getting stunning Golden Hour portraits? Take a look at this video (in English with subtitles):

landscapes in the golden hour

Another of the great allies of the Golden Hour is landscape photography. The lateral light and its play of light and shadow enhance the textures; the warm color dyes the entire landscape; and the sky is saturated with thousands of oranges, pinks, blues, yellows or violets.

Let’s look at some tricks to get great landscape images in the golden hour.

The golden hour in landscapes

Select the place previously

This time your model is a landscape, so you won’t be able to move it. You can only move yourself.

So it is even more important that you know well what image you want before you get there, where the sun will set or rise, what frame you are interested in, if you are going to look for interesting silhouettes to add to your image or moving just a few meters to the left you can frame the sun between those branches…

Select the place in advance

Camera settings

  • Forget automatic mode and set it to mode Handbook. It’s the only way to get a exposition correct. Do several exposure tests until you are convinced that the result is what you want.
  • white balance: If you have it in automatic by default, make sure turn it off, it is very likely that the camera corrects the warm tones and that suddenly it does not make any sense that you are in the middle of nowhere, about to get dark, cold or tired or tired of waiting. “Cloudy” or “Shadow” would be the two options that you should try in this light situation (since they respect and accentuate the warm colors), and stay with the one that most convinces you.
  • If you shoot at rawyou won’t need to worry about color temperature since you can correct it in post-processing.

Necessary material for photographing the Golden Hour

The necessary material is the same that you will need for any landscape photography excursion:

  • Tripod.
  • Filters.
  • Flash.
  • A wide angle lens (if you have it and if not the one you have).
  • Battery and/or spare batteries.
  • Warm clothing if applicable.
  • Remote shutter or, failing that, set the camera to shoot alone, so you will avoid the vibrations that you can cause when you press the shutter.

Inspiration to photograph the golden hour

  • look for textures.
  • Give prominence to the sky when it’s worth it.
  • Look for interesting angles and compositions.
  • interesting looking natural frames.
  • Don’t always turn your back on sun. Try photographing it and inserting it into your images
  • Play with different planes on the image to increase depth.
  • Search the magic of warm light through a good exposure and make it the protagonist of your image.
  • Practice with the composition rules.
  • Skip one of them from time to time.
  • Include the silky effect in some of your images.
  • Make sure your image has a center of interest.
Golden hour

What is the blue hour?

the blue hour It is a type of natural lighting that is characterized by its cold and bluish hue and its intense blue skies. It happens immediately after the golden hour in sunsets, just before the darkness of the sky arrives, and immediately before the golden hour in sunrises, as a previous step from darkness to sunrise.

The blue hour is one of the most used to photograph the cityscapesince it is the contrast of the intense blue of the sky with the first artificial lights of a city, one of the most photogenic places to photograph the blue hour.

In natural landscapesis also a widely used moment, especially the moment in which the warm and intense tones of the horizon contrast with the intense blue of the sky.

Although it is called the blue hour, You must take into account that the duration of the same is quite short and differs from the moment before sunrise to that of sunset.

At sunrise, the blue hour is only about 30 minutes before this, and at sunset, about 15 minutes after the sun has disappeared behind the horizon line. It always depends on the situation…