“Are you a beginner photographer who likes to shoot scenery? Do you also want to obtain professional results? Then make sure you don’t miss the moments where the light in the sky is the most beautiful, the magical time in each day people call the Magic Hour. This article introduces beginners to the concept of Magic Hour, Golden Hour and Blue Hour.”
A lot of people who are interested in photography have heard of the saying Magic Hour, but most only know that it happens around sunset, and can’t say for exactly when it begins and when it ends. This lesson contains content shared by photopills, explaining the best moments to shoot during the Magic Hour with image examples and text, this is not something you should miss.
First, there is no official definition of the Magic Hour, but it can be roughly categorised into two phases, the Golden Hour and the Blue Hour. During the Golden hour, the sun is shining from a low angle in the sky, the cooler colour light is hard to be caught by the eye due to refraction, leaving a soft and diffused orange-reddish light, resulting in what we know as the sunset scenery.
When the sun is near the horizon(below 0.5 degrees, as will be explained later), and if the weather is pleasant, the moon will already be visible. At that time, the sky and the moon will have a similar exposure, and it will be easy to capture images where the sky, scenery and the moon are all equally and correctly exposed.
This is when the sun has already set below the horizon, though with its light still visible. A gradient from cool to warm colours can be seen in the sky, and is a good time for moon photography.
Then when during the Golden and Blue hours should we shoot? Due to there being differences as to when each phase will occur depending on your location and seasonal changes, the correct way to determine these phase is to calculate the elevation of the sun and convert it to time(same as calculating the time of sunrise and sunset), see the below image:
Blue hour (from -6° to -4°)
Golden hour (from -4° to 6°)
What time does it start then? You can download the app by photopills(only available for ios), but it is not free. The other method is to use another free application that we’ve introduced before called golden-hour. Below is a brief tutorial:
There actually isn’t many settings to be adjusted, the moment you enter the website it will automatically calculate the start time of the Golden Hour according to your location(ex. On 12/6/2014 it starts at 18:36), and to know the end time, look to the bottom right where it says Twilight and select the degree where the Blue hour ends(-6 degrees), the calculated time will then appear on the right-hand side where it says “Set”(Rise is during the morning). On the green row below you can choose another date for the calculation, it is extremely convenient.
But alas, whether or not a photoshoot will be successful also depends on the weather of that day. If it’s a cloudy day, sunlight will be reflected onto the clouds, making it rather atmospheric and unique; if the sky is clear, sunlight would not be disturbed, resulting in clean and fair images. Lastly, I wish for everyone to be able to take some satisfying photos during some Magic hours this summer.
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