Discover the Importance
of How and When to Photograph Magical
Landscapes and Portraits
Twilight and Golden Hour
a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky.
a time period between the night and day. The Sun is below the horizon and the light is visible illuminating upper layers of the atmosphere creating a blue hue.
To obtain the best lighting for photography, Google "sunrise and sunset times" with desired location. The best times to photograph landscapes and portraits in order to get a softer/warmer feel, are during the Golden and Twilight Hour. The Golden and Twilight Hour, also known as the Magic Hour, occurs when the sun is near the horizon and sunlight travels through a greater depth of the atmosphere, reducing the intensity of direct light and the illumination comes from indirect light from the sky. Lens flares also add illuminating touches to photographs and occur when light is scattered or flared from a camera lens when directed at the sun. Flares add nice touches to photographs creating dimension within a photo when the Sun is low in the sky. A cloud filled sky may also act as a natural filter, but if no clouds are present and the sun directly hits the subject outside of the Magic Hour time slot, it may create hard light and shadows which results in overexposure of the photo. Timing and the Sun both play a huge factor while traveling. Being on the open road and capturing the light throughout the day is truly magical! Below, you will see some of my favorite photographs captured during sunrise and sunset. I want to differentiate how the same image can vary in such a short time span according per time of day.
Great Reno Hot Air Balloon Race
It was a goal to view the Great Reno Hot Air Ballon Race, so waking up early in the AM in order to capture amazing photographs for the Super Glow segment at 5AM and the Dawn Patrol at 5:30AM was on the itinerary. Here are some of the images captured during the show from the beginning until Mass Ascension. This annual race occurs every September and has been one of my favorite adventures because spectators can get close to the balloons and conductors.
Bluff International Balloon Festival
It was my 29th birthday in Bluff, Utah while viewing the annual Bluff International Balloon Festival early that morning. Watching the balloonists come together and prepare their balloons before liftoff early in the AM amongst the desert rock landscape was amazing. The lighting was magical and I captured Twilight and Golden Hour photos. It was a memorable birthday full of balloons in the vast open desert sky!
Key West, FL
While vacationing at Key West, FL, one of my favorite moments was capturing the Key West, FL sunrise. While lodging near the dock that read “90 Miles to Cuba," I set the alarm 30 minutes prior to sunrise in order to capture that special once in a lifetime moment. Early that morning, the tripod was set on the dock awaiting the Sun to show it's true colors. Soon enough, an orange beam of light flared an impression upon the water and peeked through the canvas looking clouds filling the morning sky. Needless to say, it was one of the most beautiful moments experienced and captured.
Trona, San Bernardino County, CA
Being that Death Valley estimates around 129 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months, visiting around my 31st birthday in January seemed do-able. Encountering an off road gem on accident was one of the greatest pit stops imagined. The Trona Pinnacles is an unusual geological feature in the California Desert National Conservation Area that consists of more than 500 tufa spires which are large rock formations that remind me of the planet Mars. The Pinnacles are recognizable in hit movies including Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Disney’s Dinosaur, The Gate II, Lost in Space and Planet of the Apes. Rihanna also recently conducted a music video called Sledgehammer on location. Arriving around Golden Hour, the views and energy felt was breathtaking. Pink skies soared the sky during Twilight and the stars started to shimmer closer to nightfall.
Death Valley National Park
U.S. National Park Service/CA/NV
While driving into Death Valley National Park prior to sunrise, white noise filled the air and there was no signs of life within miles. Suddenly a never before seen hot pink sunrise filled the sky reminding me of the berries color in Trix cereal. On the continued drive in, the pink hues continued to fill the sky. After exploring the magnificent park, it ended at Dante’s View point which is 5,476 feet high around the Twilight hour. Suddenly purple and pink hues illuminated the park and the salt flats in the canyon below began to sparkle.
Grand Canyon National Park
U.S. National Park Service, AZ
The Grand Canyon has always been a favorite due to its unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms that decorate the canyon which is 277 river miles long, 18 miles wide and a mile deep. The canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size and you must visit to truly experience firsthand this Natural Wonder of the World. Being there makes me feel the size of an ant and constantly wondering how it came to be. Photographers are quick to snap every moment, but photographing the canyon during the day can be a waste of time. The photos are overexposured and the true colors of the canyon do not show quite yet. It is around the Golden and Twilight Hour that the pink, orange and purple hues begin to peek. If you look closely, you can also see the Colorado River inside of the canyon for scaling purposes.
Bodega Bay, CA
Bodega Bay has been a family favorite for years. Every visit to Bodega requires a stop for Fish & Chips at The Boat House and then relaxing on one of the cliff beaches to view and capture sunset. As the sun sets on the wakes, orange and pink hues tend to fill the sky. While on the ocean coast, photos are more pleasing during the Twilight and Golden hour. As a frequent visitor, it's rare to see my camera out at any other time during the day due to overexposure.
WHAT ABOUT PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY?!
The same rules apply for portrait photography, however, most families like to shoot early in the AM since children tend to cooperate better in the AM hours. When this occurs, I book family photo shoots around 9/10 AM since the sunlight is still low and there is minimal light and/or shadows upon the subject's face. I also seek shaded areas where the sunlight is not overbearing. When scheduling a shoot for a client, it's important to discuss the time of day for the shoot and the advantages and disadvantages. If evening appointments are do-able, I highly recommend it to clients due to the variety of hues around the Golden and Twilight hour.
Engagement and maternity photos are fun to capture in the evening. If shooting a wedding, don't forget that some of the best captured photographs occur during the Golden and Twilight hour. Usually this magical time is right before and/or during dinner so make sure to let clients know ahead of time that you will be snagging them outside to capture a few photos! Happy shooting!