Do you know you see those beautiful warm and glowy images that you see on Pinterest? The ones that look completely edited because they just can’t be real? Images featuring the golden hour are photographs I aspire to work in the style off.
Each photographer has a specific style. Ansel Adams is known for his black and white imagery, Rankin for his strong lighting in a studio and Michael D’Outrement for his natural light wildlife photography. I could spot any of their photographs a mile off… because their style is so specific. Now, if you’re reading this and thinking ‘I don’t know what my style is’, don’t worry, it will come. I have my style, but it has taken me over 5 years to nail and even now I get it wrong sometimes.
My style is warm, light and glowy images. They’re the type of photographs that I am naturally drawn too. When developing your style, I would have a look through any of your Pinterest boards and see if there are any patterns of images that you have saved. Maybe some are muted and softly light, others may be solely black and white. These past patterns may help you choose the style you want to photograph in the future.
If like me, you draw your inspiration from the natural world then spend some time just observing what is around you. Do you like big open spaces – maybe try photographing with negative space. Do you like soft light – maybe try shooting just before dawn or dusk. If you like warm light – continue reading this blog post.
So golden hour… what is a golden hour? For starters, it isn’t always an hour. If I had an hour to shoot in I would be laughing. The Golden hour usually occurs in the hour after sunrise & before sunset. It is when the sun is low in the sky and the colour of the light turns warm. There is some super science behind the golden hour, but I’m not fully sure of the details. I can just tell you when the golden hour is approaching & the best conditions for it.
Knowing whether there is going to be a golden hour is all about learning to see light. Now that may sound super weird, but you will easily pick up on it. When the clouds go all dark and it seems almost as if someone has turned a light switch off? You notice that, so spotting golden hour will be easy! Obviously, the weather predictions will be showing minimum sunny spells, ideally, the weather will say full sunshine. About an hour before sunset, head outside to start your shoot. During the next hour to hour and a half, you will see the light gradually starts to go more golden. If you can, try to shoot at the highest location you can, this means you avoid losing the peak golden light behind tree’s or buildings.
Photographing in the golden hour is the bread & butter of any photographers dream. If I could, I would only shoot in the golden hour for the rest of my life. Purely because there is sooooo much you can do with it. My favourite trick is to photograph into the light as this gives you sun flare to work with.
Here are my top tips with photographing during the golden hour:
- Work quickly. Do not be fooled by the ‘hour’, in some instances you may have 5 minutes, so work quickly. This is usually the time I tell clients to just keep smiling and I will sort getting the horses ears forward.
2. Shoot into the sun. During my university degree, we were actively discouraged from shooting into the sun and blowing the highlights, which altered my shooting for a long time. However, in the last year, I have really got back into shooting imagery I love which is shooting into the sun.
3. Sidelight. As with all bright sunshine, please don’t ask your models to look straight into the sun and smile. Work with sidelight! The warm glow is just so flattering on any skin tone that you’re destined for beautiful portraits.
4. Silhouettes. Can I get a hell yeah for a silhouette? Creating silhouette images, especially with horses, is just beautiful. This is the opportunity to get arty with it. Have your model walk away from you with the horse and photograph them all blackout with a beautiful sunset background.
5. Underexpose your photographs. I tend to shoot a stop underexposed when working in golden hour so that I have all the detail in the highlights. In post-processing, I will lift the shadows to bring the details of the faces back. If you shoot with balanced exposure, you run the risk of blowing out your highlights and not be able to get any detail back whatsoever.
So there we have it, my top 5 tips for shooting in a golden hour. Whilst I would encourage researching your technique before shooting a golden hour, the main piece of advice I can give you is to practice. As I said, it has taken me 5 years to nail my style, so here is to the next 5 years of practising golden hour photography.
If you would like to be photographed with your horse in the golden hour, please get in touch.