Golden hour is that dreamy time when the sun is setting and the sun leaves a gorgeous golden wash over everything it touches. Golden hour is prime time for us photographers and we chase the light to create the images that will turn out to be breath-taking memories for our clients.
Golden hour is amazing, but if you’re new to shooting during the golden hour, it can be a little tricky. The light is much brighter and, when setting, which can create elongated shadows that less harsh than midday but still take your image across a wide variety of light to dark. Your camera settings and how you set up your subject are so crucial to capturing a beautiful image.
I’m sharing my 5 best tips for golden hour photography. Next time you have a session during golden hour, keep these tips in mind and you’ll set yourself up for success.
TIP 1 - Check your sunset time.
You want to make sure you schedule your shoot DURING golden hour-- not too early or not too late. Since sunset times are always changing, use an app to track sunset times. There are many available on the app store depending on your device to find one that works for you. You’ll generally want to schedule a session 2 hours before sunset to make the most of that eretheral golden hour light.
TIP 2 - All about the settings.
First thing’s first-- set your white balance! Next, look at the rest of your camera settings. Your camera settings have a lot to do with how your final images will turn out. The right settings give you enough detailed information in the darker areas to lighten them up, without completely blowing out your brighter spots, while also keeping the temperature in mind.
I usually shoot 1-2 stops underexposed. My shutter speed is always high and ranges between 500-1500 during sunset hours depending on the strength of the light. My usual aperture setting for people is f 2.8. I try to keep my ISO as low as possible, it’s mostly on 100.
TIP 3 - Use a reflector.
A reflector is going to work wonders bouncing the beautiful golden hour light back onto your subject. If you’re shooting with the light behind your subject, use a reflector to bounce light back onto their front. A reflector is a standard tool you should invest in! I keep one in my bag at all times and use it frequently.
TIP 4 - Invest in a great camera.
This tip is a little big of a bigger investment suggestion than a quick tip, but investing in a good camera is going to go a long way when shooting the dramatic light at golden hour. My Sony and Nikon cameras capture so much information in the image that I can manipulate the image in Lightroom after without losing any information. The way these cameras capture the light is outstanding and, if you’re serious about pursuing a career in photography that takes you out into nature, invest.
TIP 5 - Edit with presets designed for golden hour.
Editing your images with my Wanderlust presets are going to give you that ultimate dreamy golden hour look with little amounts of work! Use the right settings and a reflector, pull the image into Lightroom and watch Wanderlust work its magic! Wanderlust is designed specifically for golden hour so if there is one preset you’re thinking of buying, this is it.
These simple tricks for shooting during golden hour are going to give you the upper hand next time you’re out with your clients. Try taking a friend out and playing around with reflectors, settings (including white balance and temperature) and how the light changes as it sets. Once you’re comfortable during golden hour, you’ll be creating the magical photos you always dreamed of photographing for your dedicated clients.