In the world of photography, you may often hear the term ‘golden hour’ or ‘magic hour’ mentioned. This refers to the first hour and last hour of daylight in each day. These two hours are generally regarded to be the best times of the day for outdoor photographers to take their shots. In fact, many wildlife and nature photographers will only take their photos during these hours.
The reason these hours are so popular is because at these times of the day the sunlight possesses a very warm and soft look to it that isn’t found at any other time. The sun looks different at this time because most of the light it radiates is actually indirect since it is reflecting through the atmosphere instead of coming directly from the sun. In addition, it creates longer shadows and enables photographers to use more artistic expression.
Since the lighting from the sun is indirect the shadows are also less harsh and dark as they are at other times of the day, such as mid-day. This means they won’t conceal some of the critical elements of your photo’s subject. When the sun is located directly overhead you will often lose quite a bit of detail in your images due to the shadows created by the overhead light.
The lighting is generally softer and warmer in hue. More blue light will be scattered and the sunlight will appear to be more red in color. The shadows are longer because of the sun’s angle in relation to the horizon. The type of lighting the sun gives off depends on its altitude. This means it’s not always the same all over the world. The golden hour will depend on the latitude of a location as well as the time of year it is.
In some areas of the world it’s possible that the golden hour can actually last for the whole day during certain seasons of the year.
There is less contrast in the golden hours and it’s less likely that any part of your image will be overexposed. You’ll also notice in landscape photography that the low sun’s warm color will often enhance the scene. The golden hour is often used by directors when they are filming movies because of the lighting effect it provides.
However, not all photographers agree on when the golden hour is. Some consider it to be the time when the Sun is close to the horizon, but above it. Other people believe it is the time frame between sunset and darkness. This is when the sun lies below the horizon, such as during twilight.
Lighting provided by the sun in twilight each morning and evening is quite a bit different from the light that comes when the sun is above the horizon. The time of twilight is often referred to as the blue hour.