XDrive Photo Lesson 18 – Golden Hour

This is my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 18 – Golden Hour.

Do you know there is a Golden-Hour web site (smartphone app, too), which tells you your local Golden-Hour time? Check it out here.

Of course, time is only one element in the equation. Some days we have great golden hour; some days so-so; and cloudy days it’s simply not there. This week (since Raj posted the lesson) started with several very cold days, followed by some cloudy days. Just as I was going to dig out some old photos, it got warmer 😉

Let me start with one of my favorite golden hour photos… just because I found it.

(F7.1, 1/200 Sec., ISO-100, FL 32mm)

Yesterday’s golden-hour was okay.

(F11, 1/160 Sec., ISO-200, FL 34mm. Can you feel the cold air?)

We had a cloudy morning today, but to my surprise the sun came out for a short while. I knew I wouldn’t have enough time driving to any place.

(F11, 1/30 Sec., ISO-200, 34 mm – F11 is probably not a good choice. I didn’t think ;-( Yes, I shouldn’t rush even though the sun was about to move behind clouds…)

When I did a photo session with Molly, it was during the golden hour.

(F/4, 1/20 Sec., ISO 100, FL 38 mm. My camera was set to f/4 most of the time in that day, if not all. This is a good example of why we should check the exposure frequently while shooting in golden hour. With the same setting – f/4 and ISO-100, a few minutes earlier it only took 1/250 sec. I was lucky on this one.)

I love golden hour. It has the magic transforming an ordinary scene to a special one.

(F/11, 1/200 Sec., ISO-200, FL 62 mm)

Thanks for visiting my blog.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
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34 Responses to XDrive Photo Lesson 18 – Golden Hour

  1. Amy says:

    Golden Gate Bridge, Wow!! The snow scene in golden hour in beautifully captured. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you, Amy. The day we shot Golden Gate Bridge is unforgettable. It was one of those perfect golden hours (It was probably more golden in other photos. ;-). We didn’t want to leave. Of course, so did many others 😉
      Good night.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Gorgeous photos, I love the sky in the snow photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. carol1945 says:

    Oh my goodness, now you have introduced me to another fantastic website: the golden hour. I always knew that was my favorite time of day, but I never knew it had a name until a few years ago and I started reading about photography.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      I am glad you like that web site. Since I found it, I’ve checked the golden-hour time every day. It is my favorite time of the day, too. It’s like a beautiful painting; it’s huge; it’s free 😉
      Good night.


  4. loisajay says:

    I was waiting for our photos, Helen! I think the last photo is my favorite. Something about it is so cozy, and with the light shining on that white beam of the house……it is very pretty. That app is pretty wonderful. I need to get a smartphone….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Lois. I probably would drive by the house (in my last photo) without noticing it, if it wasn’t in golden hour. The magic light makes everything beautiful!
      The app from the same company costs $1.99. I haven’t bought it yet, since we can get the information from the website free. (I don’t know how long I would resist the urge of buying the app though 😉 Have you checked the website: http://golden-hour.com/ ?
      Good night.


  5. Pilgrim says:

    Can I feel the cold air? Literally by looking at your golden winter photo. Awesome, pic, Helaen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      😉 I think we are going to get 4 to 7 inches snow tonight. Weekend will be single digit again. May as well, so I can try to make a frozen bubble 😉
      B the way, I haven’t left a comment on this… I love your photo of 3 crosses. I like to keep photos n my head for a while before commenting. Then sometime, I forgot to go back to write the comment ;-(
      Have a wonderful evening.


  6. Raj says:

    Started the new year with the great submission Helen.

    Pic1: I think the golden bridge has to be shot at the golden hour! 😀 Actually for that matter any land/seascape will be a great one during that time. If you see carefully the contrast created by the sun rays which are at our eye level giving a 3D effect! Yes, it needed some clouds on sky though.

    Pic 2: For some reason, I like this shot a lot. It’s crisp and clear. Very soothing lighting. Regarding the composition, probably you could have either excluded the bright area or included the sun in the shot, that would make the story a complete one?

    Pic 3: Nice patio shot overlooking the magic lights! Yes, the slower shutter speed must have caused some motion blur. Some clipping of highlights on the sky? Probably you should have exposed to the highlights? I know you had very little time to think about with the freezing fingers! 😀

    Pic 4: I think there is no better time for portraits on an outdoors better than a golden hour. In this case, I can see a tinge of golden lights on the model’s right cheek and hair. The image is a bit soft because of the slower shutter speed and also you did not focus on the eyes here?

    Pic 5: A great shot here utilizing the early hour light. Perfect example for showing the usage of the early sunlight conditions. But I feel you could have brightened up the bottom part of the scene and added some contrast to the whole scene?

    This critique is part of XDrive’s photography learning sessions. Thank you Helen, for being here with an excellent contribution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you, Raj. It’s another cloudy day. Didn’t even get a golden minute! There are two places I would like to shoot in the morning golden hour, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Oh well…
      Pic 1 — the light was beautiful on that day. It got more intensive (beautiful) after this photo was taken. I recently switched to a new PC; I could only find this photo on my new PC 😉
      Pic 2 — the sun didn’t look good from where I was, so I didn’t want to include it. I should walk a little farther so I could, like you said, either exclude the bright spot or include the sun. It is a narrowed road and no shoulder; I didn’t spend too much time there. But I do want to go back to try it again.
      Pic 3 — I definitely want to try again with different aperture, and focus on different spots.
      Pic 4 — I did focus on her eye. BUT here was my problem… I was lower than she was, and from where I was, I had to lock the focus and re-compose to get the photo I wanted. I forgot that when I recompose, I had to pay attention to the focal plane. I think I tilted my camera a little, and by doing so, the camera was longer focus on her eye. I have to work on this!
      Pic 5 — You are right. I tried and I do like it better!
      I like golden hour. I think I am happier during that time 😉
      Thanks for another wonderful lesson. Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Raj says:

        Regarding the pic 4, that is why most portrait photographers resort to manual focusing. Focus locking has its own gotchas… yes but its very convenient technique for most other occasions!
        You have a great evening!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Helen C says:

          Thanks, Raj. I am pretty comfortable with manual focusing, but I need practice more to feel comfortable when shooting photos of someone I don’t know. Practice. Practice.
          Speaking of manual focusing… I read somewhere that the secret is after you get focus close to what you want, you should move your body (forward and back) to do the final focusing instead of turning the lens. I think that does make it a little easier ;-).

          Liked by 1 person

          • Raj says:

            Oh.. yes.. I do that ..when I do close up focusing.. But its kind of tricky on DSLRs as it needs a good eye. On my mirrorless though, there is a focus magnifier…which zooms the focus point and you will be able to do that final adjustment. Yes by moving in or out. But I do it for stationary things like flowers, bugs etc.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Helen C says:

            Thank you, Raj. I am so happy to read this comment. I recently read about “zooming in” while shooting in manual mood, and I was going to try it, but forgot. I tried this morning. It works! That definitely will help a lot! I am so happy! (I have to switch to live view in order for it to work, which is not a problem.) Thank you!!!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Raj says:

            Yes. Helen, that’s the way to go, but live you is kind of pain while you are under the bright sky.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: XDrive Photography Learning – 18 – Golden Hour. – XDrive

  8. Leya says:

    Lovely shots, Helen! Number two is just like home to me. thank you for the link!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mother Hen says:

    Oh so very golden.. Very nice Helen!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great photos Helen .. the last is my fav. Thanks so much for the website link. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. prior.. says:

    wonderful photos and such a sampling variety pack – from Molly to the bridge to trees – so nice

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rohini says:

    Enjoyed reading this lovely post

    Liked by 1 person

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