The name Golden Hour is a little misleading as it refers to the time right after sunrise and right before sunset when the light is softer and redder than at any other point during the day. The term hour is figurative because the timing depends on where you are in the world as well as the season. For example, in the summertime (eastern hemisphere) the golden hour is around 8 pm to 9 pm.
How does this relate to photography? It's the best time of day for photography. The lighting is perfect if you're going to shoot landscape, portraits, or nature photography.
Golden light is soft, it will allow you to have your subject facing the light without them squinting and the light will be flattering on their face.
The color temperature of golden light is warmer than regular sunlight bringing out the red/gold colors more. This is what gives the photos that warm glow. Golden light is also diffused, the sun is on the horizon because of this the atmosphere acts as a diffuser. The diffuser creates so much soft light that it is easier to get a good exposure. The light is also directional it creates long shadows. You can also create texture and details with the golden light.
When you plan a golden hour shoot there are a few things to keep in mind. Because the golden hour lasts such a short time, looking up the times for it the is important. Scout out the location beforehand and plan for where you want to take each shot. This way when you get to the shoot you don't have waste to time on figuring where to place your model.
How to Shoot:
There are two different ways to use golden light in your photography. One way is to have your subject face the sunlight. The light will be flattering and soft on their features. it will also give the photo a warm golden color. The other way to backlit the subject. That is achieved by having the light behind the subject. By doing this the halo effect is achieved. The light looks like a rim around the edge of the subject making it look like a halo.
Ashley is a Virginia based photographer living her dreams of shooting concerts & interesting people. When she's not shooting or writing for the blog you can find her curled up with a good book and a latte (coffee keeps her going).