XDrive Photography Learning – 18 – Golden Hour.

In the past few weeks, we have been working on a key component of photography which is “use of lights”. Without light, there is no photograph! But an understanding of the lights is a very important factor in producing rightly exposed pictures. So today we will look into another topic on lights.

When it comes to outdoor photography generally there is no shortage of light. As more light we have, we assume a guaranteed well lit sharp picture. Well, that’s true technically, but what about the light at midday? Would you take a portrait shot or a landscape in the blazing sun? Harsh light at midday, destroys your image, highlights are too bright and shadows will be too dark almost no details left. To have a properly lit image you need a soft light source which compliments and flatters the scene or subject. You need a distributed and diffused light to illuminate the subject from our viewers’ perspective. That’s the essence of natural light photography.

So, to identify and take advantage of such valuable light condition, we must understand the concept of “Golden Hour”. Golden Hour or Magic Light is the term used by photographers taking advantage of natural light after the sunrise and before that sunset. Even though there are no calculations involved in determining the exact timings, generally, they last for about an hour. But it could be more than that too. Basically, you are taking pictures when the sun is in an almost lowest position so that you have most diffused and softest light possible.

The light at the golden hour is very colourful. Its very soothing so shooting at the golden hour is not a tiring activity for both the photographer as well as the model. The light during this period also very mild, that way even if you are looking at the sun directly still you don’t have to squint your eyes.

Let’s have a look at some of the examples below.

Early morning picture, The light renders golden tint all over. Great time to capture the silhouettes and sober landscapes.
Photo captured in the evening just before the sunset. Note nothing gets overexposed. Shadows create a depth to the image.
This picture is taken in a golden hour but there is no direct sunlight on the subject. But because of the shallow light spread, light gets distributed evenly. There are no bright shiny areas or dark shadows either.
Early morning light, creates the depth to the image by its lights and shadows effect. Also preserves the blue sky.
Magic light doing its magic on the image. Please note there is hardly any edits to this image. I like the colour variations its able to show.
Golden hour is perfect lighting for portraits and closeup too.
Golden hour photographs could be very dramatic because they produce so many variations of light intensity and colours.
Since light projected from the horizontal angle, you could create a backlit and rim lit outputs.
Clouds during the golden hours change the atmospheres’ colour. Great opportunity to shot landscapes.

So, to sum up…While shooting during magic lights…

  • Pay attention to ISO and shutter speeds, since light is diffused there is reduced light available so make sure to check your exposure values.
  • Choose the right white balance settings as colour conditions may be very different based on clouds and weather. If you are on RAW shooting then it should not be a problem as you can fix it in PP.
  • You can shoot any kind of photography during golden hours. Take advantage of fill flash if needed.
  • Ready to take multiple shots as minute by minute things will change and so is the drama around it.
  • Take advantage of rim light, backlight and silhouettes as its very easy to achieve.
  • Golden hours are not to be confused with twilights.
  • Try shooting in manual exposure mode as cameras’ auto exposure mode will try to overexpose the image since available light intensity is less than optimal for the cameras expectation.

That’s it guys, shooting with magic light is very interesting, in fact, it’s the most ideal lighting for outdoor shooting.


  1. Post at least one or two pictures you have taken with your camera during Golden Hours. Fresh pictures or existing images are fine. Apply all the things we learnt in the previous sessions.
  2. Let me know type of camera(mobile, DSLR, point and shoot)
  3. Try to put EXIF data (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) so that I can comment better.
  4. Add a tag ‘XDrivePhoto’.
  5. Add a pingback to this post. (Basically, copy the URL of this post, and paste to your post. (Anywhere)
  6. Title the post as “XDrive Photography Learning – 18 – Golden Hour.”
  7. Next post will be after the next week, that means you are gonna get two weeks to make your submission. Although you may make your submission any time later too.
  8. Please mention “Critique requested” in your post if you are contributing for the first time here so that I can give my comment on your pictures. 

Your ping-backs may not appear immediately as I have to enable them later. I will check your post, and I will comment on your post if you have requested me to do so. I will post selected contribution links to this post later so that others can also see and learn from them. (Please note there is no time limit for your contributions, you can post them anytime, I will respond to them as you contribute. You can also make more than one contribution to the same topic)

Although these lessons are geared towards newbies, expert photographers also welcomed heartily. I need to learn too! There are no teachers here everyone is learning.

Cheers and Happy clicking! All the previous Photography Learning sessions here.





XDrive Photo Lesson 18 – Golden Hour



XDrive Photo Lesson 18 – Golden Hour (Again)


27 Comments Add yours

  1. arv! says:

    Rajesh, For last 3 years I have been taking pictures in golden hours. To be honest, the nature is so beautiful during early morning that cannot be captured any other time. During winters the sun light becomes even more soft and little haze kind of adds to the scene.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Very true Arv. Only catch is you have to catch that time. I make a point to get out of my hotel early morning when on vacation… What you see in those early hours and later are totally different things. Thank you for your comment! ✌

      Liked by 1 person

      1. arv! says:

        I think we have​ something in common Raj. Only passion can push you on that path.


  2. Puja says:

    wowww.. wonderful images.. which cam did u use btw?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      I have my good old Sony a6000 with me. Thank you Puja. Btw did you check my other post on travel?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Puja says:

        Thank you for the info… Nope.. I’ll see them right away 😁

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thank you! ✌😊


  3. Amy says:

    These photos are remarkably beautiful, Raj!
    This lesson assignment is pretty challenging. 🙂
    Wish you all the best for 2018!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thank you Amy for the wishes and for everything. I am glad that I got connected to you last year! ❤🌷✌

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amy says:

        My great pleasure, Raj!
        Best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Raj says:

      … and happy New year to you too ✌

      Liked by 1 person

  4. nfrodrigues says:

    Golden hour is one of the best concepts I learnt with photography and, since becoming aware of it, I started appreciating the sunrise and the sunset a lot more. But (I’m not proud to say this!) I’m terrible at catching the golden hour. I usually spend 10 hours at work everyday, I leave home when the sun is rising and I get home after the sun is set… Now that I think about this I should add a new resolution: shoot more at golden hour. Have a great year! Oh, my favorite photo is the fifth one, I love the colors and the composition with the hedge as a leading line and the trees in the background!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kenneth says:

    Very nice photos and tips! Thank you for sharing✌


  6. Wonderful images of a special time of day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thanks Julie for your appreciation and support! 🌷😊✌

      Liked by 1 person

  7. shutterbug says:

    Hi Raj. I began to think that it is too bad that all of my photos weren’t taken during this magical time. I see a real, distinct difference. My contribution https://digitaldiary101.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/xdrive-photography-learning-18-golden-hour/


  8. shalini says:

    Loved the golden light… Wow

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Who wouldn’t love the rays of god..? But thank you! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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