Have you ever opened a magazine and found yourself in awe of the gorgeous photos between the pages? Or what about that person you follow on Instagram? Ever wonder how they always look so radiant? The reason may be much simpler than you think. These beautiful images are prime examples of golden hour photos.
Golden hour photos are images snapped at the perfect time: in the last few hours before the sun rises or sets. The golden glow cast by the sun illuminates everything in a wash of warm yellow. The horizon usually provides a bit of shade, which causes the images to have vibrant contrast.
How to Capture Golden Hour Photos
The first thing you need to do is figure our when golden hour hits. Fortunately, this time is so popular for photographers that there’s a handy web app available for free that will tell you when golden hour comes based on your location. For example, here in Montreal, golden hour begins around 7:30pm. Which means that by 7:30pm, I should have a location scouted out, and my camera at hand. The key to successfully capturing golden hour photos is to plan ahead. Since the window of time to shoot is so short, efficiency is necessary.
Thankfully, golden hour truly makes capturing photos easy. In fact, at Big Acrylic, many of the projects we see are golden hour photos. Striking sunsets on the beach, or a romantic couple standing with a cityscape in the background, are all enhanced by the setting sun.
As for equipment, there are a ton of photography blogs out there that can help you prep your gear and plan your adventure. However, for just the Average Joe, who is looking to capture some nice pictures, a cellphone camera should be sufficient.
Golden Hour Photos vs. Other Times of Day
The key difference is in the lighting. Golden hour has a softer, warmer light that creates long shadows due to the angle of the sun. These shadows, along with the sunlight being more spread out and less direct, create a radiant effect. Photos taken in the early morning or afternoon tend to be more washed out due to the direct sunlight and lack of shadows. However, the earlier sun may enhance different colors or moods.
To delve into this, we can look at these two beach photos.
During the daytime, the crystal blue water and fresh green leaves comes to the forefront. The sand on the beach appears whiter. The daytime photo is vibrant, tropical, and dynamic.
The golden hour photo is much more relaxing. The colors are still vibrant, but are now focused on pinks and purples, rather than greens and blues. There’s a balance between warm and cool tones coming from the sand, water, and sun.
Each photo captures its own unique mood and tone.
Printing Golden Hour Photos
As we’ve already mentioned, Big Acrylic sees a ton of golden hour images from our clients. These photos print very well on acrylic and sublimated metal as these two mediums do a beautiful job of capturing the vibrance of the images.
We also recommend going for a panoramic sized print as well. Panoramic photos, coupled with golden hour light, tends to make stunning photos that are as striking as they are calming.