Creative Photography – Shoot the Golden Hour

Great photography is about being a creative photographer!

Be creative! Shoot the Golden Hour to capture some of your best photography moments. The Golden Hour is shortly after sunrise or just before sunset when the natural light of day casts a golden glow.

Photos taken in the middle of the day have to contend with direct and harsh sunlight whereas the light at sunrise and sunset reflects a gentler light bringing soft golden tones to your subject.

Learn your craft and get to know your camera to get the best out of your photography.  Practice, Practice, Practice!

My most favourite time to go on a shoot is as the sun is going down.  I love the colours that saturate the skies and the glow that reflects on the water.  Daylight and sunset are also the times that wildlife is moving about, so your photos can often capture the unexpected.

By following the tips below, you’ll learn how to make the most of the golden hours and take stunning sunrise or sunset photos.

1. Steady your Camera

In low light conditions the camera will automatically reduce the shutter speed to allow more light to hit the sensor. This can result in blurred images if the camera moves while taking photos.

  • Try resting your camera on a rail or a ledge to keep it steady, or brace yourself against a wall or a fence to stablise it.
  • Take a tripod with you to take the risk out of your shot.

One of the best things about using my Sony A6000 is it’s capacity to function beautifully in low light.  In this shot I rested my camera on the handrail of a lookout tower.

2. Warm soft lighting – naturally

When the sun is lower in the sky, the changing intensity of light adds a warmth and softer glow enhancing your images.

This photo was taken in the late afternoon with the sun going down on the horizon  effectively adding drama to a scene, and has the effect of focusing your eye on the sunlit areas.  The soft golden colours add warmth to a calming scene.

If this photo had been taken while the sun was high in the sky, the harsh bright light would have created a totally different effect.

Learn your craft and get to know your camera to get the best out of your photography. Practice, Practice, Practice! Click To Tweet

3. Tell a story

Vestys BeachEven though a sunrise or sunset is beautiful in itself, adding a point of interest in the foreground of your photos will take your images to the next level.

This sailing ship had dragged it’s anchor and was being redirected back to it’s anchorage.  This photo tells a story … and yes, it was a beautiful soft golden sunset.

The silhouetted shapes against the sea and the sky enabled me to add atmosphere into the photo.

4. Reflections

Kakadu National ParkIf you’re shooting around water at sunrise or sunset, try to capture reflections of the orange colored sky and other objects. This can potentially turn a plain photo into a stunning image due to the added depth of reflections in the water.

Lakes, ponds or even a puddle will work best for reflection photos, however a few ripples on the surface can add a lovely effect.

Plan your compositions.  Watch out for any objects that are reflecting off the water and use them to your advantage.

5. Backlight Your Subject

Shoot the golden hourBack-lighting means placing a light source behind your subject. This can create a lovely backdrop of light around them.

The sun was setting over the ocean so I opted to have my subjects silhouetted with the golden glow.  The important thing to remember is to have the sun casting light directly onto your subject to get the best effect.

6. Capture Long Shadows

Camels in the OutbackAnother advantage of shooting during golden hour is that the lower sun can result in stunning long and dramatic shadows. Shadows add interest to the foreground of the image and help to create a sense of depth in your photo.

For best results, shoot directly into the sun and set your exposure point on the ground where the shadows are falling.

In this photo a colleague took a sunset camel ride and provided the perfect opportunity. I liked the way the sun was casting individual shadows from each of the camels and framed the shot so that the late afternoon sun was above the camel riders.

7. Create Silhouettes

bush camping

Golden hour is also the perfect time for capturing silhouettes where the subject appears as a dark shape or outline against the bright background of the sky.

In this photo we were camping at Chambers Pillar in Australia’s Simpson Desert in the middle of winter.  It was stark, desolate and very cold.   This shot was taken early morning as we stoked the fire to get some warmth into our campsite.

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The essence of good photography is about making best use of the available light and shooting during the golden hour gives you so many more options.

Get up early, or head out for a late afternoon photo shoot to get the most of the stunning light of the golden hour.  It will be well worth your time and energy.

If you follow these tips and techniques you will end up with some amazing sunrise and sunset photos.  Do you have a few tips and tricks of your own?  Why not share by leaving me a post below …