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When is the Golden Hour?

A common term in photography that is bounced around is “the golden hour.” Quite possibly not used as much in the film world, but equally impressive when used to your advantage, the Golden hour is a time of infamous wonder and the best time to capture magical shots outside when the lighting and timing is just right. But when is the golden hour? Continue reading to learn more about the distinction between “the golden hour,” and what makes this time of day ideal for filmmakers.

What is “The Golden Hour”?

The golden hour, also known as the magic hour, is a period of time that takes place just after sunrise or just before sunset in which the natural light from the sun is slightly softer and more red than when the sun naturally sits higher within the sky.

We refer to the time period just before sunset and just after sunrise in this way because the light is a warm, golden tone that makes for a shoot that cannot be replicated with any other form of synthesized light. Unfortunately, the Golden Hour may not actually be a full hour in which you can shoot. If you’re filming closer to the tropics, the Golden Hour generally only lasts about 40 minutes morning and night. Likewise, if shooting far north such as near the Arctic, the Golden Hour can last several hours morning and night.

Why Shoot During the Golden Hour?

So what is it, really, that makes the Golden Hour such a prime time for filmmakers, cinematographers and those who love all things film production? Several benefits come from shooting during the Golden Hour when the light is soft, warm and directional. Filmmakers enjoy planning shoots around the Golden Hour because:

 

  • The lighting is soft and less contrasted as compared to later in the day.
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  • There are fewer shadows or they are less distinct than they would be when the sun is further up above.
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  • Your subjects will not squint when you’re filming as the sunlight is softer and easier to deal with.
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  • A yellow, warm tone will be cast on the environment making the greens appear brighter and the colors appear more vibrant.
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  • The light will be directional and shadows cast longer and softer with an added depth that cannot be established naturally any other time of day.
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  • The shifting of the sun lower in the sky makes for great silhouette shots.

Quick Tips for Great Golden Hour Shoots

Planning to shoot during the Golden Hour? While you have the potential to get literally fabulous results from a shoot that takes place during the Golden Hour, it is more vital than ever to realize that timing is everything!  With less than an hour to film in many cases, planning a Golden Hour shoot can be extremely difficult. However, the result of a golden hour shoot is well worth the effort!

Follow these tips for a great golden hour shoot:

  • Plan ahead and be prepared to arrive early. You don’t want to have to spend any of the vital minutes you have of the Golden Hour prepping, setting up or otherwise getting ready. Arriving early ensures you have time to do all these preparatory tasks before the prime time.
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  • Use the shadows to your advantage during a Golden Hour shoot. Don’t be afraid to allow the presence of deep shadows to build emotion and value to your shoot.
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  • Keep your camera on manual setting so that it doesn’t automatically balance out the Golden Hour tones that you’re working so hard to capture. You especially don’t want the white balance settings to automatically adjust.
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  • Capture your shoot with a tripod or anything that stabilizes your camera if filming the landscape or inanimate objects. This way you reduce the risk of blurriness issues associated with a shallow depth of field.

 

If you’re ever lucky enough to schedule and take part in a shoot during the golden hour, you’ll be so satisfied that you were able to be a part of this phenomenon. For help planning a golden hour shoot, contact Beverly Boy Productions. We can’t wait to get started with you on your next video project.

Shutterstock Tutorials uploaded a great video showcasing how to capture the best shot during the golden hour:

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