When is this magical hour that I have heard so much about? Well, its actually not just one hour. It is a little over 15% of the day. Typically one hour before and after sunrise and sunset is considered to have the best light for photography. This occurs when the sun is at a low angle and creates this really warm glow. There aren’t any harsh shadows, the light is nicely distributed across the landscape and well it just looks so good. Lets talk a little about both of these times and how to plan to get the shot you’re after.
Lets first talk about sunrise. I don’t know about you but we HATE getting up early. However, I will say that sunrise is easily my favorite time to shoot. Once you’re up and out in the world before everyone else it is nice, quiet and peaceful. I have never regretted getting up early even if the sunrise failed to impress. On the other hand I have regretted not getting up and missing some amazing opportunities. Don’t be lazy!
Here is the kicker….you should arrive at your sunrise location at least an hour early to make sure you are set up and ready for that beautiful first light. Yes, that means you have to get up even earlier than you thought. The best light in the sky occurs prior to the sun coming over the horizon.
You don’t like getting up early either, ok. Lets talk about sunset then. It’s basically the same story in reverse. You will start getting some really great light about one hour prior to sunset with some amazing color in the sky soon after the sun has set over the horizon. As we have mentioned in other articles here you can use apps like TPE to see when sunrise and sunset is, where exactly the sun will rise or set relative to your location and about how long the nice light will last. As always….a little planning goes a long way.
If you want to maximize the potential of your images we suggest you plan to visit your favorite destinations around these times.
QUICK TIP: Using a small aperture, shoot directly into the sun as it stradles the horizon. Shoot at something like f/16 or f/22 to get a really cool looking starburst effect.