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Old Apr 21, 2010, 7:11 AM   #1
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Default New Challenge...April 21-May 4...The Magic hours

Thank you Daz for suggesting this challenge.

In the Submit New Challenge Ideas thread, Daz suggested that we take photos during the magic hours of the day. While checking the links given in the post, I found the perfect explanation for these hours in a thread Daz posted in the Pentax forum. I am going to repost it here with permission.


The “magic hour” is a concept more then a time. It has to do with the kind/quality of light and the approximant time this light can happen.

There are 2 kinds of “magic hour”. The 2 kinds are the “Golden Hour” and the “Blue Hour”. Each happens 2 times a day (assuming the sky is not clouded over) with the golden hour just after sunrise and before sunset with the blue hour just the opposite.

It is much more important to study the light and what it is doing to the subject then to watch the clock. The light is going to change continually as you get closer to the sunrise/sunset. Within minutes of sunrise/sunset the light can change very quickly, almost like a light switch.

During the Golden Hour as the sun is closer to the sunrise/sunset it is lower and that make the shadow longer. This can make some subjects more interesting. Going thru more air makes the light more diffuse (not as hard) with some of the light coming from above even thought the sun is lower (this helps soften the light more). Going thru more air also filter out some of the blue light, this makes the light more yellow (this is the golden part). Notes I said more yellow not “looks” more yellow. If you follow the fiction of temperature color balance to closely you can take the yellow out and miss the gold.

During the Blue Hour the light is extremely diffuse with almost no shadows (other then from artificial lights). Yes it is darker but there is still light. This light is bluer. Even thou the sun is down if you take to photo of the sky it is bluer then during the day. The sky will get more indigo as it gets farther from sunrise/sunset until the sky is black. If you are shooting cityscapes (with all the artificial lights) you have to be careful on how you do the color balance.

This light is where the magic is. If you learn how the light affects your subjects this will help you grab a little of the magic. It can change peoples complexions make people look happier or the blue light can flatter someone with blond hair. It can take a flat looking landscape and make it look 3D or even just the opposite. It can be fun just to study the light.



The discussion can be found here.

Daz shares some examples.

And these resources

Thank you again, Daz, for your great suggestion, explanation and resources.

Last edited by vsch1; Apr 21, 2010 at 7:56 AM.
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Old Apr 21, 2010, 12:19 PM   #2
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This looks like a great challenge.

I just wanted to add a link to help you all determine when the "Golden" or "Magic" hour is for your location. This is a pretty neat tool we found a while back.

Good luck to all!

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Old Apr 21, 2010, 12:25 PM   #3
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Thanks billy. That looks like a great resource.
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Old Apr 21, 2010, 12:35 PM   #4
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All golfers know a very special golden hour that happens after the sun went out of the horizon and there're some clouds up in the sky. A marvelous reflection will give you one, maybe two unexpected holes! I wish i could capture one of those moments.
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Old Apr 22, 2010, 7:34 AM   #5
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When I was a young mother, the golden hour was when all three kids were asleep at the same time.
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