Photography in the Golden Hour

Today’s Post by Joe Farace, Photography by Mark Toal

In photographic terms, the “Golden Hour” is that time shortly before sunrise or after sunset when the light is redder and softer compared to when the sun is higher in the sky. These are fleeting minutes when the quality of light provides you with the opportunity to make photographs not snapshots. The term “hour” is used loosely because the actual time available to make a memorable may be less and varys by season and latitude.


During the golden hour contrast is less, shadows not as dark and highlights are less likely to be overexposed making exposure easier and even a high end point-and-shoot camera, like the Lumix LX100, will be able make “good” exposures. For landscape photography, the warm color of the low sun enhances the colors of the scene.

Sunset in Hood river

The Boy Scouts are right; you should always “be prepared.” A sunset can happen rather quickly, so it’s so it’s a good Idea to visit the location ahead of time to determine the best spot to place your camera or plant your feet. And you should know what lens, aperture and ISO setting you’re planning to use. Doing this planning before the golden hour arrives leaves you free to concentrate on the proper composition of the scene as the sun drops or rises because it happens fast.