In photography, the golden hour (sometimes known as magic hour, especially in cinematography) is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day, when a specific photographic effect is achieved due to the quality of the light.The sunlight during those hours creates soft warm hues, as oppose to the overtly bright tones you’d find during midday.
In the middle of the day, the bright overhead Sun can create too-bright highlights and dark shadows. The degree to which overexposure can occur varies because different types of film and digital cameras have different dynamic ranges. This harsh-lighting problem is particularly important in portrait photography, where a fill flash is often necessary to balance lighting across the subject’s face or body, filling in strong shadows that are usually considered undesirable. Because the contrast is less during the golden hour, shadows are less dark, and highlights are less likely to be overexposed. In landscape photography, the warm color of the low Sun is often considered desirable to enhance the colours of the scene.
How to shoot during golden hours
1) Check the times of sunrise or sunset in your local area
Don’t just assume. Also check the weather forecast. If it’s very cloudy or there’s a chance of rain, you won’t be able to see the golden hour.
2) Arrive early
Don’t let the name fool you as sometimes you’d have less an hour to capture the photos in the warm tones. Especially during the Winter months. Getting there early means you won’t be rushed setting up your gear or adjusting camera settings.
3) Turn off auto white balance
Manually adjust the white balance to create the color mood you desire. Or, you can also experiment with the auto-presets such as ‘sunny’ or ‘daylight’.
4) To light up your subject in the foreground
Set EV (exposure value) to +1, +2 or +3. Alternatively, you can also slow down your shutter speed or use a fill flash.
5) To create a shadow effect with your foreground subject
Set EV to -1, -2 or -3. You can also choose to make your shutter speed faster.
6) Use a tripod
You would produce clearer images and capture more vibrant colors.