Magic Hour vs Golden Hour

Magic Hour or Golden Hour in photography are huge! Especially for those of us who shoot out on location. Sunlight is NOT your friend when it comes to portraits. Have you ever wondered why I say overcast days would be perfect or why I won't shoot outdoors between 10am and 2pm? Well here is the place to find your answer!

Natural light is fickled! It's not as easy to plan for as a studio lighting setup that's consistent but it's totally worth the hassle when you manage to get the perfect lighting scenario. Things like cloud cover can be a blessing when shooting outdoors because the clouds act like a diffuser. You've seen that little white cover over studio lights, right? Well that becomes the clouds outdoors. It makes for lovely soft lighting that compliments skin. When is light the harshest? Around Noon when the light is directly overhead. That's why I won't shoot outdoors between 10am and 2m. The light overhead puts deep shadows under your nose and eyes, making you look older and sometimes it can even look scary as that type of lighting is used for scary movies. I'd much rather plan for a part of the day that I know has perfect light. That's Magic Hour and Golden hour.

Magic Hour

This is what I call that yummy portion of perfect light in the early morning hours. Why do I call it magic? Because it's crisp, clean, and soft light. There is less smog/pollution in the morning air which means clearer images. There is also a cool blue undertone to the light.

When does Magic Hour happen? It's the hour right after the sun rises. Obviously, sunrise times change year round based on seasons. Luckily, you've got a photographer who calculates all that for you and tells you when the Magic hour happens! For instance, right now, in July, Magic hour happens between 6:30am and 7:40am. Now, I know that's early, but trust me, it's worth it! This is honestly my favorite light. It has a magic touch that studio lights can't easily mimic. If it's simply too early for you, wait until November when it ranges from 7:45am to 9am. You also get the added bonus of the beautiful fall colors.

Golden Hour

This is the afternoon light that brings warmth to your skintone. It's soft light, just like Magic Hour, but it's much warmer in tone.

When does Golden Hour happen? It's the hour right before sunset. Just like Magic Hour, the times for sunset will change year-round. Right now, in July, Golden Hour is between 7:50pm and 9pm. As the year continues, Golden Hour happens earlier and earlier as sunset happens earlier. For instance, in November, Golden Hour is 5:30pm-6:45pm.

So which will you choose? I personally love Magic Hour light as it's clean and soft but I can't help but love the warmth of the Golden Hour. I simply can't choose!

May your week be blessed =)

Christa N. Reed


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