Week #31: Magic Hour

To be shot and submitted between Sunday, July 26 and Sunday, August 2 (noon, Eastern)

“Lost – yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.”
~ Horace Mann

No reward… unless you’re a photographer! Hands down, this is one of the best photography tips out there in the world, and which you can take advantage of immediately: Magic Hour is magical.

Sometimes referred to as “Golden Hour,” it refers to the time just after sunrise or just before sunset. To be clear – it is not necessarily an hour; the duration depends on your latitude and season. Technicalities aside, there’s a reason it’s a photographer’s dream: the sun is low in the sky and casts a beautiful, warm, orange glow to everything it touches. Skin tones look beautiful, shadows are softer, and the world seems just a bit happier. Whether you shoot landscape or cityscape, portraiture or architecture, we want you to capture the glow of magic hour – in nature, in your city … wherever – just head outside and make some magic!

Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • A polarizer can help you add some drama to your photo and deepen your hues. Check out this thread for some more tips and Yosef’s buying guide in the comments.
  • Remember that Magic Hour is a fixed window of time, so plan your photo shoot accordingly! Not sure when it is? Use this website to determine Magic Hour in your location.
  • Use a wide aperture to get more of the lovely bokeh in your photo that adds even more magic to magic hour.
  • Set your white balance to “cloudy” to make the most of the glittering golden glow.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the Tel Aviv Sunrise Photowalk and Magic Hour Photowalk albums as well as the Googles or the Flickrs.

Extra Credit: Sunrise

At least once a year, we think every photographer should get up and photograph the sunrise. The world is asleep, the sky is aglow, and your canvas is ready to be painted. This week, we’re giving you an extra nudge with the extra credit. (Also, this way there are no “I’ll be at work!” excuses for missing the afternoon magic hour!) Pack your camera bag and lay out your clothes before you go to bed!
Remember, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!

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