Golden hour, also known as magic hour, is a particular period shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the lighting conditions are ideal for photographers, cinematographers, and anyone who appreciates the breathtaking light. During this time, light possesses an ethereal quality to it, softening any harsh shadows that may have been present when the sun was higher in the sky.
Summer was at its peak when I first discovered photography. The Golden hour seemed happy to go on forever; as a beginner, I cherished this significantly. While artistic limitations allow our creative minds to grow rapidly, moments which are easy to photograph teach us the importance of embracing every type of season and weather. When the colder months arrived, I was satisfied enough with the hundreds of golden images I owned to challenge myself in more elaborate ways. My portfolio, which had significantly grown thanks to the opportunities the magic hour provided, was ready for new atmospheres, lighting conditions, and emotions. Had it not been for a golden hour, my photographic journey would’ve been hindered much more intensely. Because of this, I’d like to share the many ways in which photographers, especially beginners, can master and enjoy the golden hour.
Every day after school, I’d eagerly run home in hopes of creating another set of magic hour photographs. This was an emotionally and artistically fulfilling experience as it prevented me from sitting in front of the laptop for the rest of the day. Dedicating half an hour to nature and photography gave me a chance to take a break from reality and to focus on my creative needs. Turning such a positive experience into a routine played a large part in my growth and discipline as a photographer.
When the golden hour is at its strongest during the year, try to make the most of it as often as possible. Even a 5-minute shoot will allow you to stretch your creative mind and come up with impressive ideas. No matter where you are if you sense golden hour approaching, grab your camera and shoot something you’ll love.
In addition to creating a healthy daily routine for myself, I discovered a beautiful corner in my garden where I could shoot daily. It was filled with cicadas and cheerful flowers in the hot summer months, a combination which made me feel safe and accepted. Because I felt safe, my images didn’t look forced, and my emotions were void of discomfort.
It’s important to find a spot where you won’t have to worry about strangers approaching or vehicles passing by. When it comes to developing a daily routine, especially a creative one, a feeling of safety is key. If golden hour enters your room, remain in your room and shoot; these indoor shots will be nothing short of beautiful. If the sun doesn’t reach your home at magic hour, go out with your friends for a shoot; this will create a stronger bond and provide you all with memorable, stunning images. No matter what, make sure to stay safe; safety will preserve your life and add a sincere touch to your images.
In the image below, I used a garden hose to create my summer rain. The raindrops, lit by gorgeous sunshine, created an absolutely cheerful summer atmosphere. With this in mind, make the most of your outdoor possessions, be it a garden house or a bucket of water. Hair looks absolutely wonderful when illuminated by the sun. Raindrops look breathtaking during golden hour; their shine is akin to the glow of stars, an effect which enhances any image. Make the most of these elements, and you’ll discover a brand new world of creative ideas.
Photographing everything is ideal for both beginners and experts. As a beginner, it can be tough to find the type of photography you’re most drawn to. Because of this, it’s important to experiment with all genres of photography; this is when the golden hour comes in. Since the lighting conditions are close to perfect during the magic hour, you can completely focus on your subjects without worrying too much about light. Use this opportunity to photograph all kinds of things: animals, nature, landscapes, people, objects, and so on. The experience will increase your confidence as a photographer and allow you to appreciate every genre out there.
Experts who focus solely on one genre, be it portraiture or landscapes, can benefit from this opportunity in much the same way as beginners. If you wish to grow artistically and deepen your creative knowledge, try out something you’ve never taken the time to focus on before. The further you go from the knowledge and skills you’re familiar with, the more you’ll grow as a different photographer. Once you familiarize yourself with another genre, you’ll go back to your original genre with confidence, valuable information, and an open mind.
Golden hour, a seemingly short period, will significantly challenge you, compel you to come up with quick yet great photo ideas, and provide you with a pleasant daily routine. These newfound abilities and experiences will help you grow not just as an artist, but as a person.
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