It's Week #27: Magic Hour

red-bird-blank-sign see the album


Dalia Finkelstein: Week 10: Kiss (2016)

Magic hour (also known as the golden hour)  is the time period of the first and last hour of sunlight. It is that time of day when the sun is near the horizon, painting everything in a golden glow. This special time slot is not really ONE hour (60 minutes) in length. It all depends on where you are, what time of year it is, and even weather conditions.

If there’s ONE photography tip that you take away from 52Frames, let it be this: TAKE PHOTOS DURING MAGIC HOUR!

The sunlight is so magical because SCIENCE! The sun is near the horizon and illuminating from the side, creating longer and softer shadows. The light intensity is reduced because the light waves are travelling further through the atmosphere. The atmosphere acts as a giant diffuser, reducing and softening the light. And all that atmosphere the sun has to travel through, also filters out the blue light and gives the rest of the light a reddish golden hue. Golden!


Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • Look at the time. Keep in mind that the magic hour does not last very long and you should be ready and waiting for it. There are various golden hour calculators such as this one to help you plan your shoot..
  • Know where you are going to shoot. Photographers are always aware of their light sources, so  remember that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This will help you decide where your photoshoot will take place, for example the beach, an open field or on the street.
  • What magic do you want to create?
    Do you want a warm glow on your model’s face, or do you want your light streaming from behind a subject creating a lens flare, or do you want warm light seeping through a forest a field? Outdoor portraits and landscapes taken during the magic hour always look amazing but you can even get the benefits of magic hour indoors by shooting near a large window. Time is short and it’s always a good idea to think beforehand about what type of photo you want to capture.
  • Stay the entire hour. Your scene can change drastically during the magic hour as the light changes. Plan to stay for the entire period and watch how the light magically changes through your viewfinder. Keep in mind that you are probably going to have to make constant adjustments to your camera’s settings as the light increases (morning) or decreases (evening) to avoid over- or under-exposed photos.
  • Bonus tip – Keep shooting after the sun sets! There is still light in the air after the sun goes down and you can get some terrific shots during this time; this is what photographer’s call “Blue Hour”. (please note: this would be for your own photographic enjoyment but not necessarily applicable for this week’s challenge!)

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our “Magic Hour” albums from 2015 and 2016, and “Morning” from 2014! And of course, The Googles! Oh you sweet Googles. 


Extra Credit: Sunrise!

For some extra credit joojoo, take your magic hour photo at sunrise! I repeat..SUNRISE!!  You should definitely plan this shoot carefully. You should know WHEN the sun rises at your chosen photo shoot location and factor in enough time to reach this spot. So set your alarms early dear Framers! To sweeten the deal, have a look at these gorgeous sunrise photos.

Check out The Googles for more inspiration!


Remember, it is not necessary to keep this Extra Credit challenge in mind while shooting. It’s extra credit!
*Please note!! You can only submit ONE photo per week, for the week’s challenge. This photo can include the “Extra Credit” part of the challenge, or the “regular” challenge, but you can never submit more than one photo!

Past Challenges 2016

Past Challenges - 2015