Golden Hour Photography: A Complete Tutorial (+10 Tips)

Golden Hour Photography: A Complete Guideline (+10 Tips)

golden hour photography: a guide plus 10 tips

What is golden hour? And how can you use it to get stunning photos?

In this article, I’m going to share everything you need to know about golden hr photography. So if you’re aiming to understand exactly what golden hour actually is, or if you want to increase your golden hour images with some expert tips, you’ve get to the right place.

Let’s dive right in with a simple definition:

What is the golden hr in photography?

The golden hours are (roughly) the first hour after sunrise  and the last hour before sunset. But the entire golden hours can vary based upon your geographical location and the current season.

golden hour photography dog in grass

What makes this lighting situation so great for digital photography?

The sun’s position in the sky. Because the sun is at a low angle, this goes through more of Earth’s environment before striking your issue. This produces soft, diffused, flattering light.

Generally speaking, gentle light is a photographer’s best friend. It doesn’t create harsh shadows plus tends to decrease the dynamic range of a scene, so your images won’t feature dark shadows or bright highlights.

In addition, the golden hour produces a warm colour temperature , which can be improved (or reduced) in post-processing. This warm color forged is often flattering, like in the photo below:

golden hour portrait woman on a beach

Five key lighting scenarios for golden hr photography

Golden hour offers five essential lighting scenarios (all of which make for great images):

Front light

Front lighting will be when your subject faces sunlight directly.

During the golden hours, front light gives a warm really feel to images. And because sunlight isn’t too bright, portrait subjects won’t need to scrunch up your eyes.

Front light is very easy to work together with and will make a lasting impression.

front light during golden hour
An  example of front light at golden hr.


Backlighting   occurs when the sun is at the rear of your subject.

During the golden hrs, backlight creates a soft, hot, hazy, glowing effect, such as this:

back lighting in the evening
An example of backlighting.

Make sure to expose for your subject and luxuriate in the masterpiece that you develop.

Rim gentle

Edge lighting is definitely when the sun is positioned to create a halo around your issue.

(This halo is especially prevalent when your subject is positioned against a dark background. )

The sun does not need to be directly behind your own subject, though – the backdrop just needs to be (relatively) darkish. You will have to move around to find the special spot to achieve this effect, but a good way to start is by shooting from a low angle.

That’s what I did for this shot:

rim lighting dog

Sun sparkle

When stray light hits your lens, you’ll often get a sun flare impact , like this:

sun flare portrait
A good example of sun flare.

During the fantastic hours, the sun is at the optimal height for beautiful sparkle. A simple way to achieve stunning sparkle is to angle your digital camera and lens so that your subject matter is partially covering the sunlight. Then move around (sometimes you simply need to move an ” or two left or right) to find an angle that best creates a sparkle effect:

band with sun flare

Another way to achieve a flare is to position your lens plus camera so the sun is just out of the frame, as I did for the first image on this section.

Different lenses render different types of flares, so this effect is very enjoyable to try with multiple lens.


A silhouette is established when your subject is made black against a brilliant background:

Golden hour photography dog silhouette
An example of a silhouette at fantastic hour.

Near the end of the golden hours, it becomes easier than you think to achieve a silhouette. Simply photograph your subject straight against the light. You can add several contrast in post-processing.

Now, there are several methods to truly take advantage of the golden hours (and achieve consistently stunning images).

Here are a few tips to help you:

1 . Observe the sky the afternoon before your photoshoot

The best way to figure out once the golden hour will be with its peak is simply by observation!

Peek out of the window the morning before your photo program. See how the sun moves and how the light changes. Because the sun’s position and timing change very little from one day to another, that will allow you to get a better idea of what the lighting circumstance will be like on the day of your shoot.

puppy at golden hour

2 . Plan your picture session in advance

No one wants to feel anxious, anxious,   or rushed when doing photography, therefore be sure to plan well beforehand.

It’s a good idea to begin setting up for your photograph session about 60 mins before the golden hours start. That way you have plenty of time to ensure that your subject and equipment are ready for that perfect second.

woman and horse
Anani Inaru with Trinket at golden hour.

3. Watch out for clouds!

Depending on the level of impair coverage in the sky, the golden hours can change (or not appear at all! ).

Clouds may enhance the brilliant sunrise and sunset, or they can obstruct the light entirely.

hands intertwined

4. Set your own white balance to Cloudy or Tone

Simply by changing your white balance setting , you ensure that your images screen true golden hour colours.

Both the Cloudy and Shade white balance settings will add a lot more warmth to your photos – so you can enhance the beautiful appear the golden hour is known for.

woman with stunning bokeh

five. Shoot with a wide aperture

Golden hour light can make for amazing bokeh (i. e., the particular out-of-focus parts of a photograph). But to get the best bokeh, you’ll need to use a wide aperture (e. g., f/1. 8, f/2. 8, or even f/4).

Golden hour bokeh beach
Golden hour photography bokeh.

The particular dazzling yellows, reds, oranges, and golds of fantastic hour combined with a wide aperture create a rather exceptional backdrop:

dog with beautiful bokeh

6. Keep photographing, because the light will change every couple of minutes!

The sun moves quicker than you may expect, so maintain shooting and don’t stop!

dogs with backlight

Each new position from the sun will create a special image for you to take.

dogs with backlight

7. Try different angles and positions

The sun flares, colors, and intensity of the light are all affected by how you position your lens.

So experiment plus try as many different positions as humanly possible! To have the absolute most out of the golden hours, you should take advantage of exactly how easy it is to manipulate golden hour light.

man in a field

8. Underexpose a bit to add more  vibrance

It’s harder to darken an overexposed image than to lighten an underexposed image.

So underexpose just a bit to bring out the beautiful vibrancy of the sunset or dawn.

golden hour portrait

9. Explore the use of HDR

Take multiple exposures and layer them on top of one another in post-processing. This will preserve detail in the shadows and highlights, and it could make for some stunning golden hr photography!

HDR photo

10. Experiment in post-processing

Use your favorite post-processing program to really enhance the colors that you capture.

And see exactly what colors you can bring out inside your image. You will be surprised at the colors that appear once the sky has a few atmosphere in it.

dog on a rock

Golden hour photography: last words

The golden hours are full of endless possibilities, and no two files will look the same.

So get out during golden hour – plus take plenty of shots!

Now over to a person:

How do you use golden hour for the photography? Do you like shooting during golden hour? Share your ideas and images in the responses below!

Read more from our Guidelines & Tutorials category

Anabel DFlux

Anabel DFlux

is a published photographer in Los Angeles, California. Having began her photography business when justin was 15, Anabel has dedicated her life to her photo taking passion. From canine sports activities to exotic animals, for some of the biggest musicians in the world – Anabel’s work doesn’t fall into any specific niche. She believes there are no limits to what you can generate, and to photograph everything that gives you that spark of inspiration.

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