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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Photographing During The Golden Hour

Nature's Green Is Gold
by Robert Frost
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

First, I want to make one thing perfectly clear, I am not a professional photographer.  I have found my way back into a hobby that I once enjoyed and am relearning what I once knew.  Along the way I have once again discovered the magic that can be captured during the “golden hour”.  Anyone who has picked up a camera can tell you how important lighting is to capturing the perfect shot.  This is especially true when you are working outdoors, which is why so many photographers, whether they are amateurs or professionals, they have come to love the golden hour and the effect that it has on the shots taken during this particular time of day.

If you are not familiar with the golden hour, it is the first hour of light right after sunrise and the final hour of light before sunset.  Depending on the area where you live and the season, this magical time of day can vary.  The light that is visible during these specific times of the day tends to be diffused and is much more appealing to the eye and flattering to the subject that you are photographing.  The images captured during the golden hour tend to be more visually appealing than those we take during the middle of the day or morning hours. 
The type of light that is available for photographers during the golden hour tends to produce less contrast, which results in a lower risk of losing the subject you are photographing in the deep shadows or bright sun light that occurs during other times of the day.  The special glow that can only be achieved during this time will also give your pictures a glow that can’t be achieved any other way.  The images that are captured during this time of day often feature details, textures and depth that will add a unique look to your photographs. 

The fastest and most effective way for you to determine when the golden hour is where you live is to use one of the many different golden hour calculators that can be found online. (e.g. The Golden Hour and The Twilight Calculator)     These specially designed calculators will provide you with the most accurate time of the day when the golden hour will occur.  Whether you are looking for the morning or evening time, these calculators will help you plan your shoot. 

Once you’re ready to head out and have a destination or subject in mind, the next thing you should do is to ensure that you have packed all of the necessary gear.  By taking along everything that will help you capture the best shot possible, you will not miss out on an opportunity or take a shot that is too blurry to use.  One of the first things that you should pack is your tripod.  This will help keep your camera stable and avoid any shaky images. 

When you arrive at your destination it is also important that you allow yourself plenty of time to setup.  If you have calculated the correct time for the golden hour in your area, you will have an idea of how much time you will need to ensure that all of your equipment is properly setup.  Arriving early will also allow you the opportunity to find the perfect location for the shots you are planning on taking.  Another thing to keep in mind when shooting during these specific times of the day is that no two shots taken will be alike.  This is because the light quickly changes and that will affect the subject that you are photographing.  Because of this, many experienced photographers recommend that you continue to shoot throughout the golden hour.  Shooting for the entire golden hour will provide you with a wide range of images and different effects produced by the light.

I hope this information will help you plan your shoots and capture some incredible images.  I have become quite a fan of shooting during this time of day and can honestly say that I have taken some of my best pictures during the golden hour.  ~Michelle Castillo~
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