You’ll often hear photographers referring to the “quality of light” and using terms like “the golden hour” or the “magic hour”. What exactly do they mean and what difference does it make to a photograph?
The first hour of sunlight at the beginning of the day and the last hour at the end is known as “the golden hour” because of the look and feel that the sun (assuming it’s not behind a big black cloud!!) creates on your subject – landscape, person, building – whatever really.
As the sun gets higher in the sky, shadows become more harsh, the colour of the light changes, moving away from the “golden” glow a low sun gives to the point when it’s at it’s highest point with the harshest of shadows and brightest of light causing people to squint and unwanted glare.
Photographers particularly enjoy the “quality” of the light at these times of day to give a warm feeling to their shots with light coming in from the side with softer shadows. And depending on where you’re taking the shot, the morning “golden hour” may have less pollution, dust and other particles such as pollen in the air giving that cleaner, crisper look.
Tips and techniques such as these are covered on our “Getting Started” and other courses.