Golden Hour of Photography

Embrace the Golden Hours of the Day

Without a doubt, my favorite time for photo therapy is during the “golden hour of photography.” The golden hour is the hour just before sunrise and just after sunset when the lighting is a bit redder and softer. Many photographers (especially outdoor portrait photographers) shoot only during the golden hours of the day. The soft light produces less contrast and helps reduce stark shadows and blown out highlights. The added advantage for macro photographers is the ability to capture insects and spiders when they are in a sort of stasis before they warm themselves in the sun. You can find dragonflies, butterflies, damselflies, and grasshoppers (among others) perched quietly on plants. They’ll appear almost frozen (making them super easy to photograph) and if you’re lucky, you may be able to capture these creatures bejeweled with dew drops. What could be better?!

I get giddy when thinking about early summer morning photo shoots. Nothing is more beautiful than flowers and insects bedazzled with hundreds of tiny dew drops. If you’re lucky, you may even find perfectly spun spider webs delicately lined with beads of glasslike dew.

Dragonfly covered in dew

Late summer brings fields set aglow with rich colors of purple and gold. Asters and ironweed, coneflowers and goldenrod provide ideal perches for sunbathing grasshoppers. When walking along field edges, you’re likely to hear the soft hops of grasshoppers fleeing from your footsteps.

Planning Your Early Morning Photo Walks

  • Check to see what time the sun rises in your region and plan to arrive at your shooting location about a half hour before. Arriving early allows you to scope out some great areas or trails. If you’re lucky, you may even find some awesome bugs waiting patiently for the sun to come out and play.
  • I always check to see what the wind speed is. Windy mornings often make for disappointing photo walks. Shooting macro images can be nearly impossible with even the slightest wind. If the wind speed is great than 10mph, sometimes I choose to stay home (lame, I know).
  • Wear layers. Cool early mornings can quickly turn uncomfortably warm once the sun rises. Wear layers to stay comfortable.
  • Wear waterproof boots and long pants. It may even be a good idea to bring a change of clothes. I often end up with pants soaked from my knees to my feet from walking through wet fields to scout for bugs.
  • Some of the best areas for fantastic early morning finds are pond edges and field (or anywhere with tall grass). As a bonus, you’re sure to find webs adorned with dew!

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