Golden Hour is a term frequently used by both professional and amateur photographers, and also the public these days. It’s long been our most favourite time of day to capture people, equines and other photography subjects. So, what is it, and what’s all the fuss about?

Horse photographer Cotswolds Jo Hansford

Golden hour is the hour just after sunrise and just before sunset. At this time, just as the sun fades, the light has a naturally warm hue and is very soft and flattering. The light is far less contrasting than in the middle of the day, the scene has a warm glow and the shadows are longer and softer. This is perfect for capturing so many types of models and creating a lovely, warm atmosphere in photographs.

Horse photographer Cotswolds Jo Hansford

What time is Golden Hour?

The time of Golden Hour will vary with the time of year and season. In the depths of winter,here in the UK, sunset is as early as 4 pm. In the height of summer in June, sunset is at 9.20 pm, so Golden Hour is from around 8.20 pm.

We have long been big fans of Golden Hour shoots, even though it often means we have a very late dinner at 10 pm, or later!

Horse photographer Cotswolds Jo Hansford

What makes Golden Hour special?

Photographers have different favourite times of day to shoot Golden Hour, we have always preferred evening to early morning (Nic loves a lie-in ……).

A lot of our work is about capturing the ‘love’ and bond either between a couple, or between a rider and their horse, and working at this time of day, we know the resulting images will have a wonderful, natural warmth to them which really gives the photographs atmosphere.

Horse photographer Cotswolds Jo Hansford

By efficiently working around the direction of the sun in relation to our models, we can also create ‘bokeh’ in the background of images, and use flare for effect (see examples here). Both of these techniques create mood and background, adding something special to the end effect, allowing us to capture a wide variety of shots within the hour.

Horse photographer Cotswolds Jo Hansford

Equine Photography in Golden Hour

Much of our work includes equine photography which can bring additional challenges for lighting. Horses are big models and as a result, much harder to tuck away in a small shaded area, unlike for example a single person or a couple having their portrait taken. It’s far easier to squeeze a couple cuddling into a shaded area next to a building or a tree at 2pm on a sunny day, a 16hh horse just won’t fit there!

As we head into Golden hour the shadows are longer and the light softer, making lighting a horse with its owner much easier. So, Golden Hour is often a great choice for our equine models, as long as the timings work both for the owner and the horse.

One final bonus of GH is that as the sun dips below the horizon, the sky is often filled with beautiful shades of blue, orange, purple tones – the perfect backdrop for a silhouette shot – a cracking finish to a sunset shoot!

If you’d like to enquire about an equine, family or sunset shoot, drop us a line here or all us on 07876344866.

Horse photographer Cotswolds Jo Hansford
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