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Capturing the Magic of Golden Hour Photography

By Sarah Foster | Inspiration

Professional photographers and Instagram influencers both yearn for “Golden Hour,” they time their shoots around this timeframe to capture perfectly lit images. The cascade of light across the horizon illuminates the subjects of photos in an unparalleled way. BeFunky has some tips for while you're taking the image and some tricks with the Photo Editor to make your golden hour photos shine. 

What Is Golden Hour Photography?

Slightly before the sun drops below or pops above the horizon line, the sunlight is diffused and appears softer with a reddish tint. The intensity of direct sunlight is completely gone, and it no longer produces shadows! This is a chunk of time every day that photographers flock to so they are able to capture images that offer a striking result that is golden. If you are using a DSLR camera, it is best to have a tripod and a wide-angle lens. However, you can capture the most stunning image on your smartphone camera, and still use these tips!

golden hour subject

Golden Hour DSLR Tips

When you pick up a DSLR camera for the first time, it's best if you familiarize yourself with the settings. There are lots of different options that impact your final image, and understanding what each setting does will help you know how to capture the perfect image. Here are a couple of tips BeFunky has for shooting with a DSLR: 

golden hour dslr

Switch to Manual

In a DSLR camera, start by switching the white balance from the automatic setting to the daylight option. This will allow for there to be more contrast in the white balance in the image. Next, change the AF (autofocus) from automatic to manual so that you are able to focus on the horizon selectively. You can do both of these things on your smartphone by touching the screen where you want to focus, and dragging your finger down to create a lower exposure. 

golden hour focus

Work the Exposure Triangle

When using a DSLR and photographing golden hour, it is often best to use aperture priority mode. This allows you to have more control over the depth of field. Your chosen shutter speed will be determined based on the subject you are photographing, if you are choosing to photograph something with movement like waves, you'll want to select a lower shutter speed to capture the movement of the water and make it look smooth, with a faster shutter speed you will have more crisp images. ISO is the third part of this exposure triangle, ISO controls how sensitive your camera is to light. A low ISO would be anything under 300, making your camera less sensitive to light. These three things go hand in hand and each impacts the other. When you make changes to each of these, make them slowly so that you can find the perfect setting for your image. 

golden hour sunset water

Editing Tricks for Golden Hour Photography

Snapping a photo on your phone, or on your camera using the tips above can both result in a beautiful image. Once you have captured an image that you love, you can elevate it even further with a couple of tricks using the BeFunky Photo Editor

Be Composed With Crop

Sometimes a perfectly beautiful image ends up not being perfectly composed. BeFunky’s Crop tool is the perfect answer for this. With a freeform option or several different preset sizes, you are able to manipulate your image to fit the size you desire for your final product. 

crop golden hour photos

Enhance the Sun With Lens Flare 

When you get an amazing photo of the horizon with the near-perfect glimpse of the golden hour sun, you can enhance it by adding a Lens Flare Effect. This is a simple effect that can make your image shine in just a few clicks. For this example, we used the Warm Sun effect. The larger plus sign should be placed where the sun is, and the smaller plus sign is where the additional bokeh and flare will end up being. You can adjust the intensity and the color of the flare by selecting the Settings box. 

lens flare effects

Start Capturing Your Golden Hour Magic

With a few helpful DSLR camera tips for capturing an iconic golden hour image and the insightful BeFunky editing tricks for enhancing those images, you are all set to create magic in just a few clicks. Start practicing editing your golden hour beauties with the Photo Editor today!

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified