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4 Easy Tips for Taking Advantage of the Golden Hour

You have probably heard the term “the Golden Hour” at least once, but chances are, you’ve heard about it a lot, because many photographers, myself included, are obsessed with shooting during this time of day. Whether you are shooting portraits, nature or landscapes, you will most likely find that you prefer the Golden Hour, too, because you will not have to worry about harsh shadows, blown highlights, and uneven light.

The Golden Hour happens twice a day: in the morning, within the first hour of the sun rising, and in the evening: the hour before the sun sets. Photographers love shooting during these times, because of the even, diffused light. Below are a few tips that will help you take advantage of the Golden Hour.

1. Plan Ahead

You can easily find your local sunrise and sunset times with this website.

Once you have calculated what time the sun will rise/set, know that the hour before the sun sets, and the hour after the sun rises, will be your key time.

2. Get to the Location Early

The light during the Golden Hour changes very quickly, so make sure that you arrive to your location early, just in case you have to set up any equipment, or scout for the best angles to shoot from. Also, if you are photographing a client, stress to them the importance of arriving on time so that they will have beautiful light in their photos!

3. Shooting

While not a requirement, having a tripod handy can help you tremendously. Like I said before, the light changes very quickly, so if it is too dark for you to do a hand held shot, a tripod can be very useful.

Be sure to keep your aperture in mind. Skies tend to be extremely colorful during this time of day, so having a smaller aperture (think f/8 to f/11) will create more detail and contrast in your skies.

Speaking of contrast, you may want to take a circular polarizer filter with you, in order to maximize the colors in your frame.

If you are photographing people, now is a great time to play around with backlighting! For this, you’ll want to use a wider aperture of approximately f/2.8 in order for the background to be slightly out of focus, and create a hazy backlight around your subject.

4. Last But Not Least

Take as many shots as you possibly can! Seriously, shoot until you feel like you’ve taken too many photos. You will probably notice that the light, the skies, and the colors around you will change every minute, so it is best to shoot as much as possible – that way, when you get home, you’ll have plenty of variety of light and color to choose from in your photos.

How do you get yourself out of a creative slump? Any tips or ideas you would like to share with the rest of us?

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