The Importance of Light
When it comes to photography a key aspect that any professional will stress is the importance of light, whether it’s using flash to illuminate a subject, what settings to have your camera on to get the best shot, or which direction to face your model for the most flattering shadows. Lighting is one of the most crucial components in any shoot. When used correctly, it can take a photo to artistic new levels. When done incorrectly, it can ruin even the best of shots.
There are many sources and options of light to use when taking photos, ranging from ring lights and studio flash with umbrellas to a giant ball of hydrogen, also known as the sun. Fun fact: the sun is the brightest of those three options! The nice thing about using flash or continuous lighting is its consistency. You know exactly what you are getting and can easily adjust your settings as needed. The sun, however, can be a little trickier to work with. Around noon it can be directly overhead, generating no shadows and giving a very flat light, when a group of clouds roll in, completely changing the lighting and ruining your images. And don’t even get us started on night time–the sun is practically useless. So when is the best time and way to utilize the sun for photography?
Sunlight and The Golden Hour
A common photography phrase when it comes to lighting is “The Golden Hour”, but what does it mean? The golden hour is the holy grail of lighting when it comes to natural light, something photographers chase to capture that perfect shot. The golden hour is the lighting you get during dusk and dawn when the sun is at the horizon generating that beautiful orange glow. Whether you are shooting landscapes, portraits, events, or architecture, the soft glow from golden hour can breath new life into photos in a way flash or direct sunlight never could. Because the sun is so low it can create long shadows adding some wonderful effects and features to a photo. Just like with other sources of lighting, the more you understand the source the better you can use it. So let’s go over some tips to better understand the golden hour:
Timing, Timing, Timing
The most important part of the golden hour is the time frame. Show up too late and you missed your shot (literally). It is always better to show up before the prime golden hour to get your settings honed in and take some practice shots. The perfect time for golden hour varies from city to city and the time of the year. You can either keep an eye on when the sun starts to set or rise and make note, or most weather sites or apps will tell you the exact time!
Practice and Experiment
Mess around with some shots and experiment! The advantage of living in the DSLR age is not having to wait to see how your photos turn out and how much film you just went through. Change your position, shooting with the light behind the subject or in front, open or close your aperture more. If you aren’t happy with the shot you can always delete it! You may also discover something you never would have thought of before.
This section mainly pertains to portraits but if you wanted to put sunglasses on a mountain more power to you! Try having your model experiment with props, maybe a reflection of the sun setting in their glasses, or have the sun rays behind piercing through a sun hat. You can use the setting sun to really give those props an extra pop that a 3pm sun never could.
The golden hour will change and evolve in it’s lightning throughout the hour so don’t stop shooting until it’s gone! Keep shooting and compare the shots from the beginning to end. You’ll be amazed at how different your results are!
These are just a few tips to get you started on chasing that perfect sunset, or rise! Using the golden hour correctly can really push your photos to the next level and create that warm and comforting mood that transports the viewer straight into your images.
At Lenzart Photographic Lab, we strive to provide you with high-quality print products that showcase your sunset photography in the best light. From photographic prints to gallery wrap canvas to professionally printed business cards, choose a print lab that puts you first, and choose Lenzart!