Tag: golden hour

Using backlight to create ethereal portraits

You’ve probably come across dreamy-looking portraits, ones which possess a warm glow without appearing too harsh. It seems that the photographers behind these shots mysteriously conjured up the perfect light, creating a composition so striking that you can’t imagine recreating something equally beautiful. The secret, however, doesn’t lie in light that requires an elaborate spell – the key to taking great backlit portraits is the right kind of light and the ideal location to complement that light. Though this might sound like a tough (or vague) challenge, don’t be discouraged. If you find yourself visualizing photographs even when your camera isn’t nearby, mastering the art of backlit photography will come easily to you. Below are a few important basics to get you started:

Finding a great location

If you’d like to experiment with backlight, find a location where light roams freely. (Open spaces like fields are ideal for this.) If you live in a busy city filled with structures that block the sun, find a roof where you can safely photograph yourself or your subject. These locations will give you plenty of light to work with. (If you don’t have access to such places, shooting in front of a window on a sunny day will suffice.)
The backlight will light up not only your subject but everything surrounding your model. This is why shooting backlit portraits in a field of flowers, for example, will yield breathtaking results. If you’re shooting in a more urban location, add your own flowers and plants to enhance the composition. Challenge your imagination. When surrounded by objects which are beautifully lit, your subject will glow all the more. Furthermore, such small decorations will make the overall composition absolutely stunning.



The benefits of shooting during golden hour

Before we get into the best ways to position a camera for backlit photography, let’s focus on every portrait photographer’s favorite time of day: golden hour. The magic hour comes into being shortly after sunrise or before sunset. This is a time when the light is, as most people agree, at its best. Everything takes on a soft and warm glow during the golden hour, creating an almost nostalgic feeling wherever you look. If you’re an absolute beginner, experimenting in an open space during golden hour will inevitably provide you with the best possible lighting conditions for a successful shoot. For expert photographers, shooting in all kinds of spaces during the magic hour will add a pleasant touch of warmth to their work. If you’d like to learn more about the golden hour, read this article.

Choosing the best time to shoot

To make the most of a backlit shot, you must control the amount of light that enters your lens. Direct sunlight will ruin your shot, while completely blocking it by placing an obstacle in front of it will make your results very dark (unless you’re shooting silhouettes, this method won’t work.) For visually appealing results, make sure light enters your lens from one side. This will create a pleasant light leak which will not only brighten your composition but add a beautiful texture to it.


Unlike golden hour, a backlight is rarely available in limited quantities. It can be found even on overcast days when soft light is present. If you find the light is too dull on a day when the weather conditions aren’t ideal, use a reflector; this will significantly enhance any available light and make your subject’s face stand out in a flattering way. If you don’t own a professional reflector, it’s very likely that you can find one in your home: a mirror, a white sheet of paper, kitchen foil, or a Tupperware lid.

Experiment persistently

Most importantly, experiment. Break the rules: create dark silhouettes, work with overexposed shots, and photograph whatever you desire during the magical hour. Enjoy the warmth of golden hour and the softness of duller days. If portrait photography is your niche, experiment with other genres using the same methods. Try out taking photos of flowers, buildings, and objects. Broaden your creative horizons. This will be very evident in your results; additionally, it will transform you into a better photographer and observer of the world.
Whatever you do, don’t stop shooting, and you will thrive in the most surprising of ways. Just remember to embrace spontaneity, listen to your imagination (no matter how bizarre it may seem at times), and find potential in seemingly insignificant details.

Happy shooting!



Mastering golden hour: Setting your path to success!

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.


Practice daily

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.


Find a safe place

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.



Include other elements in your shots

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.



Photograph everything

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.

Good luck!

Mastering Travel Photography: Avoiding Cliche Travel Shots

You’ve finally saved up for that amazing trip! You can’t wait to get some great shots to help build your portfolio. But, you don’t want to travel only to take the same, overshot image of that iconic place. And how demotivating is it to walk up and see hundreds of other people doing the same thing? But isn’t it funny that you always see the hundreds of other photographers standing in the same spot? Having other photographers around doesn’t mean you can’t get a unique image. Just, avoid standing where they are. Follow the below to help in avoiding cliche travel shots and get unique images of iconic places.


Do Your Research

Before traveling, do your research to begin planning out your ideas and shot list. This includes actually knowing what the cliche images are! Otherwise, how would you know what to avoid? You should also plan out some shot ideas to avoid the cliches. Of course, this is not meant to be a hard schedule, it should be a guideline, something to adjust if needed. Some travel photographers prefer to wait until they are in a new place to figure out the story. This way, it is a more natural process. Even so, doing research beforehand will help give you an idea what to expect. You may learn an interesting fact that could change the way you shoot in a location. Before going to Porto, I learned JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book while living in the city.  This changed the way I walked around the city. I found small details of buildings I could reference back to the Harry Potter books. It was so much fun! If I hadn’t done the research, I may not have known this fact until after I left. As a photographer and Harry Potter fan, this would have been frustrating and heart-breaking!


Golden Hour

The time of day you shoot can be the difference between a hobbyist and full-time pro. How often do you see people shooting iconic landmarks smack in the middle of the day? D’oh! If you were there at the right time of day, you would have a higher quality image. Shoot the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. During the day when the sun is brightest, shoot indoors or be aware where the sun is. Using a reflector can help reflect light where you want it to go.


Walk Around

First, assess the scene. What do you see? What do you want to capture? Take a nice walk around the scene. Search for interesting angles or actions happening. What does this subject look like from the side? Look up, look for ways to shoot down. Walk across the street and see what it looks like far away versus up close. Try shooting a few frames and see how they come out. How can you improve them? Does the image tell a story? It can be a good idea to walk away from the subject for a while as explore something new. Come back to it another time (if timing permits) with fresh eyes. This can change your perspective.


Shoot a Portrait

Try finding someone interesting who would be willing to let you shoot a portrait of them. If you are near a famous landmark, this will be easy. Everyone enjoys a good photo of themselves, even more in front of a famous location. Play with aperture, blur out the landmark. It’s interesting the Eiffel Tower blurred in the background. Most would make it the main focus. Maybe it is an interaction between people or a candid unposed image. That will give you a unique spin on that location. Moments are singular and will never again occur in exactly the same way.


Shoot Daily Life

Expanding on the above, try to create a sort of environmental street portrait. Look for a scene which speaks to the emotion of the place. It could be an interaction between a local couple, or a street vendor and tourists. Add the element of the landmark to your background to give it a sense of place. You will tell a story of daily life in this location, in a more interesting way than just each element on its own.

Avoiding cliche shots in travel photography is not difficult to do. Even though there are other photographers around, you can still walk away with a unique image. All you need is a plan and to do your research. Learn what to avoid and brainstorm how to avoid it. Take a nice walk around, get to know the locals, ask questions. A new world will open up before you if you just start a conversation and take an interest in the people and culture. This care and emotion reflect in the images. You’ll walk away with a great story and a better image.