Capitalizing on the Golden Hour

photographer's best light, calgary wedding photographer

Photographer’s best light

Taking shots during the Golden hour

Photographer’s best light. The Golden Hour. There’s a reason it’s so coveted by photographers everywhere. It’s because, well, it’s the best light of the day. I, like many others out there, do my absolute best to get my portrait subjects to pose for me during best light, particularly when it’s an outdoor shoot. Posing someone by the incoming light of a window is equally desirable. Golden light is so beautiful in portraits and family photos, and can make all the difference in the world as far as how your photos turn out. I do my best to steer my subjects to allow for this in timing of their sessions, hoping to convince them to opt for the most flattering of all times for sunlight, and to cast a beautiful, golden tone on their photo sessions. Shoots during the middle of the day, or when sun is still too bright overhead can produce blown-out results even the most skilled post-processor can’t eliminate. It can be difficult to find spaces to take photos of the couple where they are not squinting in the bright light. My very first wedding I was hired for, was photographically a disaster, totally shudder-worthy. Now, granted- working on an extremely tight budget, she knew I had no gear and no previous wedding experience, and not even any formal posing or portrait experience. The photo session was booked at high noon after the wedding in the local park, and guests from the wedding stood all around us distracting my couple at every turn. The high sun meant all the backgrounds were basically white, and each photo outdoors had my poor beautiful bride squinting in the sun. Many years later, I of course know now that bright sun overhead can create very strong highlights and dark shadows. To some extent, good gear and a fill flash can eliminate most of these problems by working to balance the lighting across a subject’s face and ideally, filling in the undesired strong shadows that are present. By contrast, shoots that occur during the “Golden hour” period allow for subjects to look directly into the flattering and fading sunlight without squinting, enhances colour and in general, paints its subjects with a hugely flattering, soft golden light. Using some softened off-camera lighting with a flash trigger or strobe and an umbrella  can produce very beautifully lit subjects with the stunning sunset behind them. 

For my subjects who do comply with this timing, they are almost always thrilled most with the photos taken during sunset. Summertime weddings are more difficult to coordinate timing of sunset with, as they typically take place in the morning or afternoon leaving many hours in my location in Canada before it even begins to get dark. As weddings run late into the night, my second shooter and I eagerly keep our eyes on the conditions outside and even invoke use of some of the great prediction-model apps like The Photographer’s Ephemeris add on, Skyfire. to determine where and if there will be colour in the sunset that evening. This app’s cool predictive models and location settings allows us to whisk our couples out for a quick sunset shoot and inevitably these end up being the photos the couple love the most later when their wedding gallery is presented. Oh, if only I could have reshot their wedding all these years later! #lessons learned #photographer’s best light

I consider lighting portrait master, and OFFBEAT friend Dave Brosha to be the go-to resource when it comes to studying lighting in photography. (Check out his latest book- Northern Light: The Arctic and SubArctic Photography of Dave Brosha here!) His ability to read the available light and bring it out in his stunning photographic work is a huge factor in his compelling, stunning portfolio. Capturing photographer’s best light takes true discipline in landscape photography, and even more care in outdoor portrait work. I highly recommend studying his works to see how his portraits stand out amongst so many others for the fabulous lighting he’s always managed to capture and alight his subjects with. I also take inspiration and learnings from Sue Bryce, who has an extensive courseware available online for those photographers interested in studying lighting with their portraits. In future blog posts I will talk more about high key lighting, soft lighting, hard light and other types of photography lighting scenarios one might expect to encounter.

How has lighting affected your portraits? How does it play into your landscape images?

tags: #lighting, #Calgaryweddingphotography #Calgaryphotographer, #photographiclighting #nikonD810 #photographer’s best light


photographer's best light, Glenmore sailing club wedding, Calgary wedding photographer (Beautiful Vanessa posing in the golden sunlight for a bridal portrait)
photographer's best light, Calgary event photographer

Some of my most compelling landscape photos have been captured when the light is the most sublime- and they seem to be the images that resonate most with my audience.
photographer's best light (Gorgeous Emerald Lake at dusk)

1 thought on “Capitalizing on the Golden Hour

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email
Visit Us
Follow Me
error: Contact me for pricing!