My Golden Light Obsession

Somewhere in my photography journey I became aware of this magical time called the Golden Hour.  It is the hour after sunrise and the hour just before sunset and the light is just perfect...soft, flattering, and well, golden.  In these photos, if you photograph your subject with the sun at their back you can get some really gorgeous pictures, no matter what your subject is.  

It is during this time of day that the light is just too good to pass up and I have been known to stop making dinner to grab Fiona and rush outside to snap pictures of the horses or just places around the farm.  I have also been known to schedule photo shoots to include the opportunity to take advantage of this perfect lighting situation and I have never been disappointed.

I'll show you what I mean!

As you can see in the top photo, the sun is sinking lower on the horizon and with the camera positioned just right, you can get the golden glow in your photograph.  If I had positioned the camera to shoot up a little more, I would blow out the photo with too much light.  If I had positioned the camera to shoot lower on Bob, or crouched down to get the sun more behind him for backlighting, the shot would be darker and the colors would be more true to the moment.

In these first two photos, you can see that the top photo with the sun partially behind Bob allows him to stand out more and have a lovely rim of light around him.

 The next shot I wanted to have more of the sun and that sunflare/golden look to it.  

This photo is a great example of what I am talking about when I say it is "blown out"...there is waaaayyyy too much light being allowed in and the subject is not defined.  You have to really look at it to see that it is a front shot of the horse's face and that there are two eyes there!  

This shot of Frederick is a little too blown out so I changed my camera positioning to get the golden rays as well as some of the little flying things in the air around him.  


Camera positioning is key...

In this shot of Fred above, I used the leaves and branches to help me block out some of the light.  I wanted to see her, that golden light and capture the light dancing on the spider webs in the fence.  

What if you want to get the magic of the evening with your subject backlit but you ALSO want to see your subject more? This is where it gets fun because you will need to add a fill-flash to illuminate also from the front.  You will need to adjust your flash settings so that it is not too powerful and blows the subject out.  Here is an example of a shot before using the flash (very dark subject but nice golden background)

...and with the flash (subject illuminated more but you still have that magic of the evening light behind her...aka me!)  I would have liked to preserve more of that golden color behind me, but this is something you can actually fix in post processing with the darker photo.

A fill-flash option

So here I have used the original darker photo without flash, adjusted the curves to brighten myself and used the paintbrush tool to keep the background its original darker/golden coloring.  I think it makes my face turn out more grainy this way.  Which one do you prefer?

Some examples of rim lighting

The dark horses have a bit of red when the sun is just allowed to follow their outline.  Just so you have an idea of my camera settings here, too... ISO 1600, 1/125, f8    

On this shot I wanted to get a little blur in the tail motion.  ISO 200, 1/80, f6.3  

This was just a clean shot of the sun on Sue's back.  

This one was to get some of that light illuminating Bob's mane and to get some bokeh from the background.  (Bokeh is that bubbly look in the dark background.  If you watch movies, you will see this a lot there, too.  Capturing the light in small circles.  Very fancy!!  lol)

I positioned myself here to get Bob nice and golden and there's a little rim of light, too   :)

ISO 1600, 1/125, f8    

You can't always take pictures standing up...sometimes you have to get lower and change the perspective.  I did that here to get Bob's tangled legs and face and the light on his tail and outlines.  One of my favorites...looks like he's playing Twister!

These are just two detail shots of the horses' backs and the light

This shot of Bob has both the golden light and the rim lighting...I may have added some sun glow and softened it in the post processing on this one, actually...

Some rim lighting and solar flare

I also do this with people!

Last but not least is going out with your camera during the Golden Hour to capture the landscape and the sun coming up.  The best times of the day!

The magic of light makes your pictures gorgeous!

That fence row above...I wanted to capture the little flying things in the air and the spider webs on the fence  :)    In the shot of the leaves, there is another example of bokeh on the left side of the photo.  

I love the Golden Hour and the beautiful light and special something it gives your pictures, but imagine if we lived in the days before color photography and had to capture all of this beauty in black and white?  It would look something like these...

So....share your thoughts in the comments below and see you next time!

I hope you enjoyed this week's blog about the magic of light during the Golden Hour and have some ideas now on how to get this in your own photos!  

Please feel free to share your pictures with can email me or share them on my Facebook page!

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