If there is something travelers and photographers have in common it’s their love for the Golden Hour. Also known as “Magic Hour”, this is the brief moment right after sunrise or before the sun sets. The light becomes softer, the colors redder and the vibes are warmer, even in winter!
Whenever I travel to a beautiful place, especially surrounded by a natural setting or, even better, a beach, I like to sit down and enjoy a quiet sunset. I have to admit: I am rarely awake for sunrise so most of my golden hour photos are taken around sunset. It feels like this is the right time to slow down and take it easy. Letting the thoughts flow naturally and absorbing the last rays of warmth that the sun allows you to appreciate before retiring for the night.
The end of the day is also one of my favorite times for photography – and I know many of you share this passion with me! It somehow feels like it is easier to click pretty landscape photos before sunset, for the simple reason that things to tend to look stunning at this time.
Golden hour doesn’t last for long. Actually, it is not really an hour in most parts of the world. So, if like me, you want to maximize the available time to create some great photography, you may want to keep in mind a few simple tips that will ensure your photos will look even better!
Golden Hour allows for amazing photography possibilities. The light is delicate, warm and romantic. No wonder this comes under pro photographer’s favorite times to take portraits and portfolio shots, engagement and wedding photography or landscape panoramas. But you do not need to be a professional to create impressive photos. Nature will be on your side!
The creative possibilities during Golden Hour are definitely not limited to landscape shots. This is a wonderful time to click portraits too. The warmth of the light can make people glow in a very subtle yet pretty way.
If you shoot against the sun, silhouettes can result in very fun photos too:
If shooting in the exact opposite direction, with the sunlight facing the object of your photo (a person or a building, for example), playing around with shadows can result in pretty creative visuals too.
But if you want to get to see the subject of the photo partially, then don’t let the person (or object) cover the light coming from the sun fully. This will result in a lens flare effect that, in the correct setting, will definitely add a sense of magic to your shots. This technique works particularly well when photographing people with long hair. The rims of light coming through and around the hair accentuate the features and this adds to the pro feel of the image.
If you are clicking in manual mode and you want to take things a little further, make sure you increase a little more the exposure time (the use of a tripod can be a good idea when doing this). Also, set a higher ISO or wider aperture to make sure your objects are still lit and don’t turn out to be silhouettes (in case that is not your desired effect). If you want to be faithful to the natural colors you are about to shoot, turn off the auto white-balance or play around with the different settings offered by your camera. Some cameras will have “cloudy” or “outdoor” options that tend to work quite well for this time of the day. Try the different options available to understand which one you fancy the most.
Who needs Instagram filters when you have the magic of natural colors? Golden Hour… brought to you by nature itself, and making your travel photos even more stunning!
Zara is a Portuguese blogger who quit her job in Dubai in 2011 to travel around the world with her now husband Ashray, from India. They’re the team behind Backpack ME, a travel site that aims to share tips and ideas with people all over the place, inspiring them to go travel, no matter where they come from!