Make Your Own Golden Hour By Mastering This One Setting

Photographing during golden hour can produce stunning results, but Mother Nature isn’t always kind to us. Give this trick a go if she’s being temperamental.

Many photographers love shooting during golden hour because the ambient light imparts a soft, gorgeous warmth onto our subject matter. Those fleeting moments during golden hour often produce some of the most stunning images regardless if you’re photographing landscapes or portraits. Aside from the short window of opportunity, we’re also very much at Mother Nature’s mercy when photographing during golden hour. Weather conditions, cloud coverage, time of year, and a slew of other factors determine whether the ambient light is actually golden during its eponymous hour. All hope is not lost, however, if Mother Nature happens to be a cruel mistress while you’re out photographing. By mastering your camera’s white balance settings, you will gain the ability to control how intense golden hour’s effects appear in your image. You can even simulate the appearance of golden hour if Mother Nature is giving you the cold shoulder. Let’s dive right in.

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Photography Cheat Sheet: Camera Settings for Shooting in the Golden Hour

Planning to head outdoors and shoot during the Golden Hour? Here’s a photography cheat sheet to help you get the best results with the right camera settings.

The Golden Hour is every photographer’s favorite time of the day to shoot, for a good reason. As the term suggests, it bathes a scene in a beautiful golden glow that increases the contrast and brings out the most dramatic and vibrant colors. This is why portrait photographers and landscape photographers especially prefer to shoot outdoors during this time of the day. If you’re yet to do a Golden Hour shoot, today’s featured photography cheat sheet has some suggested camera settings to try and some easy tips to make sure you get the best results.

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How to Make the Most of Sunsets for Golden Hour Portraits

The Golden Hour is one of the best times of the day to shoot, so allow us to inspire you with some ideas for your next sunset portrait session!

If you want to play with mood, light, and emotion in your portrait work, shooting during the Golden Hour is guaranteed to give you some great results. It’s been tried and tested by many photographers, and if you’re a budding portrait photographer, it’s your turn to have fun in the sun. With some excellent examples and tips from Imogen and Mark of the Weekly Imogen channel, you’ll surely have some ideas to work with and achieve your own portraits that make the most out of this magical time of the day.

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Useful Photography Tip #196: The Golden Hour Look Any Time of the Day

Want more useful photography tips? Click here.

Everyone loves the look of the golden hour when shooting portraits. While it’s always available for only a short period of time, don’t worry: there’s a way to get it at any time of the day. Best of all, this is NOT POSSIBLE IN PHOTOSHOP WITHOUT A LOT OF WORK! The reason for this is because you’ll create an organically looking light in the scene and not just use a gradient. Here’s how!

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Creating Stunning Portraits Using Beautiful Golden Hour Light

While you don’t need the golden hour to get the best portraits, it surely does help.

For the uninitiated, Golden Hour describes the short, fleeting period of time just after the sun had risen or immediately before it is about to set. During this momentary window, the sun appears very close to the horizon and produces a quality of available light that tends to be beautifully diffused and typically embodies a warmer tone than usual. Portrait photographers, particularly those that rely heavily on natural light, often prefer to photograph their subjects during these ephemeral minutes because of the beautiful quality the light imparts onto their subjects. We have a wealth of tutorials here on The Phoblographer that cover topics such as portrait subject posing as well as how to best interact with your subjects to bring out the expressions you’re looking for, but for the purposes of this particular tutorial, we are going to focus specifically on the challenges that you will likely come across when photographing portraits during Golden Hour and what you can do to combat them.
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These Fall Portrait Ideas Include Sunkissed Golden Hour Glow!

Want to make the most out of the fall season with a portrait session? You may want to get some ideas from these lovely fall portrait photography videos! 

With fall season afoot, it’s time once again for photographers to go on a mad scramble to the most stunning locations showcasing those golden foliage. Portrait photographers are no exception! It’s not surprising if autumn happens to be one of your favorite times of the year to shoot, so we’ve put together some nice behind the scenes videos by Xing Liu to inspire your fall portrait photography!

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Golden Hour is Truly Your Friend for Natural Light Portraiture

For a simple yet lovely natural light portrait shoot session outdoors, you’d need an eye for detail, good gear, and good weather. 

If you’re planning to conduct a natural light portrait shoot sometime soon, you don’t have to look any further than this behind-the-scenes video by Toronto-based photographer Lee Zavitz of the YouTube channel Zed Pro Media for some inspiration. In his vlog, we can see Lee and his model Keira making the trip to a nearby park where cherry blossoms were in full bloom for an impromptu shoot. The only cameras he used were a Fuji X-H1 and a Sony A7III.

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 Getting the Most Out of Golden Hour Using Only Natural Light

Anthony Thurston Natural Light Golden Hour

Screenshot taken from the video

Right up there with buying a 50mm lens and the rule of thirds, probably one of the most thrown around recommendations in photography is photographing your subjects during golden hour. It is one of the most common times of day to see photographers out looking for images but it also comes with some interesting challenges that newer photographers may struggle with. Continue reading…

Beginner’s Tips: Getting the Most out of Golden Hour Landscape Photography

When you’re shooting during the Golden Hour, you’ll probably see that one of the more challenging things to do is golden hour landscape photography. But, it isn’t that difficult if you just understand how light works. Modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are highly capable, and with a bit of know-how you can get an image that will look fantastic straight out of camera. While it’s true that most of the magic in landscape photography happens during the processing stage, here’s what you can do to get the most of the situation and process your photos less.

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How to Shoot Golden Hour Portraits That Require Less Editing

Spring is here; it’s a time for golden hour portraits and photographers to get excited about chasing the light in the creation of the killer photo. Many photographers love shooting during the Golden Hour especially due to its ability to deliver soft, golden light and to make a person’s skin tones look fantastic. When it comes to photographing people in traditional portrait settings, there’s something much more appealing about warmer lighting situations than cooler lighting. While cooler lighting surely has its place, warmer lighting is often more flattering.

So if you want to go out there and create better golden hour photos, here’s how to do it while also spending less time in Lightroom or Capture One.

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Monochrome Proves You Don’t Need Golden Hour for Great Landscape Photos

All images by Chris Kürst. Used with permission.

Chris Kürst (as he goes by) is a self-employed photograph from Germany. He shoots on both digital and film of which he taught himself. Chris (his first name) describes himself as a lover of black and white. Hence why he pitched his series Monochrome to us. The series is a collection of dark impressions of the massive southern Alps.

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You Don’t Need the Golden Hour to Make The Best Photos

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Cinestill 800T sample photos (29 of 31)

For many years, photographers and instructors have always said that you need to go shoot during the golden hour. Lots of photographers still do whether it be street photography, portraits, landscapes, etc. The Golden Hour does something that can give your images a natural sunkissed look to them that yes, I’ll admit is beautiful when done just right.

But in all truthfulness, no one NEEDS the Golden Hour. Modern cameras, lenses and image editing software these days have such good technology that a great photo can be taken at any time.

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Creating the Look of Golden Hour Using Profoto B1 Strobes

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.02.38 AM

Screenshot taken from the video

Why wait for the Golden Hour when you can create it? That’s part of the idea behind a new Profoto video tutorial featuring Pye from SLR Lounge. Pye discusses how at a recent wedding he shot, it was impossible to shoot during the Golden Hour because of events running behind. However, the bride really wanted a portrait session during that time.

So what he ended up doing is quite brilliant.

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Xpert Advice: Making the Most of the Golden Hour for Portraits


The Golden Hour–it’s when so many photographers take to the streets to photograph landscapes and portraits. The Golden Hour, also known as sunrise or sunset, is a pretty long period of time where the sun’s rays bathe the Earth in golden and orange hues. These tend to look great with skin tones, but making the most of it can be tough to do.

First off, we recommend not front lighting a portrait subject. This will cause the person to squint and generally create unflattering shadows on their face and under the chin. Instead, try backlighting your subject. Backlighting is when the key or primary light source is behind your subject. The process that we’re using blows out lots of details in the highlights and gives you beautiful colors that compliment skin well. This is best done by using your Fujifilm X-series camera in spot metering mode. For some cameras, you’ll need to go into the menus while others like the X-T1 have a dedicated switch/dial. Then manually choose a focusing point.

If you don’t feel like backlighting a subject, try to find shadow coverage under an awning, tree, building, or somewhere else. This gives you much more even lighting to work with. Again, you’ll be using spot metering and manually choosing a focusing point. The Golden Hour light will still make the skin glow and look wonderful.

With your Fujifilm camera, we recommend working with the Classic Chrome or Astia film renderings. For many years, Astia was a favorite of studio and portrait photographers for its softer colors but just enough contrast to give the images some extra pop. If you’re shooting in RAW, you can always apply the camera profile to the image later on in post.

So what lenses should you use? The Fujifilm 56mm f1.2, 60mm f2.4 Macro and 90mm f2 lenses all give you the best results. Be sure to check out our guide to Fujifilm’s lenses for even more.

Xpert Advice is a monthly collaboration between the Phoblographer and Fujifilm designed to teach you photography tips and tricks in a bite-sized package.

Lester Cannon: Shooting Portraits During the Golden Hour


All images by Lester Cannon. Used with permission

Photographer Lester Cannon hails from the California Bay Area. His job as a Sergeant in the US Army has allowed him to do lots of traveling–and for the past five years he’s been based in Germany. “Portrait and Photojournalism/Street Photography are my what I love the most. I enjoy traveling all over the world and photographing as many beautiful and interesting people I can find.” says Lester.

Lester is a true Renaissance man: he sometimes shoots digital, but has mastered the art of modern film photography like few other photographers have in this digital age. He shoots the photos that we all wish we could get with film.

And as he tells us about his portraits, it’s all in the eyes and the face.

Be sure to follow Lester on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Vimeo.

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How to Emulate the Look of Golden Hour in Adobe Lightroom

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer How to Get the Look of a Sunset in Lightroom (1 of 1)ISO 8001-800 sec at f - 2.8

Model: Melissa Perry

Inspired by the Photoshop post that we found the other day, we went to experimenting in Adobe Lightroom to emulate the look of the Golden Hour. Granted, we’ve shot during the Golden Hour a lot, so by applying some of the same theories and principles in the video and combining it with the look that the Golden Hour gives you, we were able to effectively figure out how to make an image look like it was shot during this period.

Granted, it won’t work for every photo, but it will work for many of them.

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How to Create the Golden Hour Effect in Photoshop

Sunset in Photoshop

The Golden Hour is one of the most popular times to go shooting photos because of the beautiful natural glow that the sun gives off. But sometimes you and your portrait subject don’t always have the time to shoot in that time slot. Don’t worry though, photographer Emilie Whitcher has a tutorial on how you can create the look of the golden hour (specifically sunset) in Photoshop.

Now before you continue, we’re going to call it: there are bound to be commenters and smart asses saying “Or you can just shoot during the Golden Hour.” Sure, but again, you don’t always have the available time to do so due to scheduling conflicts.

Emilie shows us how using white balancing tools and a bright spot, layering, opacity, and all the works.

The video on getting the golden hour effect in Photoshop is after the jump. But also be sure to check out our tips and project ideas for golden hour photography.

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Five Things You Should Know About Shooting During the Golden Hour

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D7100 golden hour and bar samples (11 of 13)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 4.0

The Golden Hour: it’s one of the times that photographers talk about the most. If you’re new to shooting, this is a time when the Earth is bathed in lots of golden and orange natural light. Think about all the times in the movies when you’ve seen a couple romantically watching the sunset or the sunrise together. This romantic moment isn’t just because of the bond between the couple but also because of the fact that this daily occurrence is such a jaw-droppingly beautiful one.

So, are you ready to shoot?

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Even More Nikon D7100 Image Samples: Golden Hour Special

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D7100 golden hour and bar samples (3 of 13)ISO 4001-500 sec at f - 3.2

I went out tonight into Greenpoint (you know, where that show Girls is shot) and photographed near the new park at the Golden Hour with the Nikon D7100 and the 50mm f1.8 G. I’m really starting to like it more–the focus is snappy (but sometimes not accurate) and the color rendering is really great. But a part of me is still yearning for a full frame sensor and all that it can do.

But be sure to check out our High ISO samples and first impressions. Once again, these are JPEGs resized for the web because the raw files aren’t supported in Lightroom yet.

This post is sponsored by Adorama as they have loaned us the unit for this review. You can purchase the Nikon D7100 body only or with kit lens directly from them.

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