How to fake golden hour looks in your photographs.
Basic Photography
March 9, 2018

Lighting is a very important element of good photography. Golden hours provide the best lighting conditions for photography. But it isn’t always possible to get to the location or set up your equipment to be ready to shoot during these hours. Not to mention unpredictable weather conditions that might get in the way. But it is possible to create sun-kissed imagery and here are a few tips on how to add golden hour magic to your captures.


1. Magic ball of light

Since you cannot control where the sun will be when you are all set and ready to capture y our perfect shot, you will have to make do with a fake sun as your major light source. By fake sun I mean an artificial external light. You can use a strobe or a speed light to replicate the effects of the sun.

The greater the distance between your camera and your subject the stronger your artificial light source has to be. In either case it is important to learn to blend natural light with the light that your magic ball produces.In the middle of the day, the bright overhead sun can create strong highlights and dark shadows. The degree to which overexposure can occur varies because different types of film and digital cameras have different dynamic ranges. This harsh lighting problem is particularly important in portrait photography, where a fill flash is often necessary to balance lighting across the subject's face or body, filling in strong shadows that are usually considered undesirable.

Because the contrast is less during the golden hour, shadows are less dark, and highlights are less likely to be overexposed. In landscape photography, the warm color of the low sun is often considered desirable to enhance the colour of the scene.


2. Position, Position, Position

If you are going to be shooting during this time, it's worth knowing your location and ensuring you are there well in advance, so that you can get into position and also move around if your composition isn't working.Keep the light behind the subject to create a good flare. Make sure that the light blasted by the artificial light source doesn’t overshadow the subject. It is also important to make sure that the subject doesn’t completely cover the light source; else there will be no flare.


3. Gel it up

Golden hours are preferred because the lighting produced in that duration has a soft and warm tone.



To recreate the effect you can use CTO or CTB gels based on the time you’re shooting.It is good practice, but not a must, to use a CTO gel on your fake sun light. A 1/4 CTO should be just enough to give it a slight orange tint. Once you have your light set up, go ahead and expose your image without the flash. If you are going to be using flash in front of your subject, go ahead and set it to your liking as well. Once you have a proper exposure, place your subject between you and the flash and slowly bring up the power until it gives you a sun flare type look.

Getting the strength of the gel right is imperative. Nothing beats practice but this chart will give you an idea of what these gels do.

4. Shadow hunters are cool

Experiment with the artificial light source, gels and reflectors to create sunrise/sunset shadow effects.


5. Tiptoe through the window

If you are trying indoor photography keeping the light source behind the window and let the light in.Sometimes when indoors you may encounter a problem where there's a window behind your subject that never gets any sunlight, or it may be the wrong time of day. This technique is great in these instances. By setting your flash up outside the window, you can create that late afternoon sun look that you see in many images.

6. Survival of the fastest

Use a fast lens (f/2.8 or faster) to soften for the background. 


Do you want to know more about photography? Peruse a world of photography tips here. Learn more through workshops.

Basic Photography
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