Magic hour is the term for the golden hour — that time of day when the sun is low in the sky and casts sparkly light on everything.
It’s one of the most popular times to take photos, and it’s easy to see why when you look at your images later and they’re filled with warm, gorgeous light.
There are other things you can do to maximize your shots during magic hour, though.
When you know what you’re doing, you can get impressive photos even if you don’t have a professional photographer working with you.
Here are some tips that might help!
magic hour photography
What Is magic hour photography?
Magic Hour is a term for the period of time when the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon, but not yet fully set.
This usually happens not long before sunset in the evening, and the time will vary depending on the time of year.
Early evening in the summer is especially considered magic hour because the light is so intense that it makes the atmosphere feel magical and dreamy.
You can also use your phone’s timer feature to make sure you have enough time to shoot before sunset.
The reason this time of day is so special to photographers is the way the light changes throughout these periods.
The light becomes softer, warmer, and more directional. It also becomes more colorful! This can be extremely useful for landscape photographers. They can capture some truly beautiful images during this time.
What Is Magic Hour Light?
Magic hour light is the soft, golden light that occurs at sunrise and sunset. It’s perfect for portraits because it illuminates the face without casting harsh shadows.
You can simulate magic hour light indoors anytime of year by adding some very inexpensive gels to your flash unit.
All you need are a few thin pieces of colored plastic (gel) to put over your flash bulb and you’ll have access to all the beautiful qualities of magic hour light!
Here’s how it works:
Magic hour light has a color temperature between 5400K and 6500K – this is a cool blue toned white light which produces amazing skin tones.
The only way to get this color temperature indoors is by using strobes or flashes with a gel pack on them (see photo below).
Why Do Photographers Shoot During Golden Hour?
The golden hour is a wonderful time of day to photograph anything because of the color temperature.
Color temperature is how “warm” or “cool” something appears to the human eye.
Objects with a high color temperature appear to have a warm tone, while those with a low temperature appear blue or cool.
At sunrise and sunset, the color temperature of the sky and other objects changes dramatically, creating interesting effects.
First, there is a gradual shift from blue (the color temperatures of most objects) to warm yellow and orange hues as the sun rises or sets.
Then, there is another shift as the sun disappears behind clouds or mountains — this time it’s a dramatic jump from warm tones back to blue.
Photography Magic Hour Characteristics
Magic hour has some unique characteristics that are great for photographers.
During this time of day the light is soft and warm as it filters through the atmosphere, giving images a glowing effect.
This can make for some beautiful photos!
How to Photograph Magic Hour
The best time to photograph during magic hour is within the first 30 minutes or so.
This is when the light is still filtering through the atmosphere and it’s not too harsh on your subjects.
You want to avoid shooting in direct sunlight as it will cast dark shadows on your subject, which won’t allow any details to be seen.
After 30 minutes you’ll notice the magic hour light starting to change into more of a golden glow with harsh shadows.
After an hour, the light will start turning into a more natural outdoor light, which will allow you to shoot longer without having to worry about your subject being in direct sunlight.
If you’re planning on photographing indoors during magic hour, keep in mind that this type of light makes for softer shadows and highlights.
Photography Magic Hour Example
When it comes to photography, there is no such thing as a single “rule”.
To be able to shoot and capture the best images for a particular scene, you have to be flexible and know what works best for your subject matter.
Top photographers like Zack Arias, Trey Ratcliff and David duChemin often shoot during the “Magic Hour”.
There are several ways you can use the golden hour to your advantage:Use it as a way to find new angles on familiar subjects.
You will find yourself looking at them with a fresh prospective, which may reveal front-side angles or views that previously did not occur to you.
Use it as an opportunity to capture new subjects.
Many creative photographers will use this magic hour period before or after an event or gathering..It can be used in combination with other lighting to give you additional control over the look of your images.
What Is Blue Hour Photography?
Blue hour is the twilight hour before sunrise or after sunset to about one hour afterwards.
The name comes from the blue haze that is cast over the sky during this time.
The term can also refer to dawn or dusk, while some people use it to refer to nightfall. Blue hour photography uses the dim light of early morning or late evening to capture a certain atmosphere that you can’t capture during daylight hours.
The blue hour is generally considered to be 60 minutes before sunrise and 60 minutes after sunset, although it can last for up to two hours in some places.
The exact time when the blue hour begins and ends depends on your latitude, longitude, season, weather conditions and what kind of coastline you are near.
It may not last long, but if you have good timing and are ready with your camera then you can capture some amazing photographs.