I love so called golden hour photography. There is a period of time in which sunlight travels greater distances through the atmosphere which produces a warm, softer light. This period of time is just after sunrise and just prior to sunset. Landscape photographers love this light for not just it’s warm softer tones, but also because of the textures provided by the longer shadows caused by the directional light. The quality of light during the golden hour is great for skin tones as well. In fact I would say that it’s the best light for skin tones. Although post processing can closely replicate it, it’s still not the same. The low, directional light fills in the pores producing softer skin more naturally than skin softening techniques used in post production.
In this photo, if you look at the subject’s sunglasses, you can clearly see the sun’s position above the mountains; just over the horizon mere minutes from setting. Perfect light.
This photo has very little adjustment done from the original raw file. I brought down the highlights a bit, and did some adjustments on the white and black balance. Other than those adjustments, there was nothing else. This is a huge benefit of golden hour photography.
This photo, also taken during the golden hour:
The first thing I notice with this photo is ISO 400? What the hell was I thinking?
Anyway, this one has considerably more post processing done to it. Keep in mind that although it looks HDRish, it’s a single frame with some major tweaking of the highlights, and I bumped up the blues a bit as well as the overall vibrance and saturation, and filled in some shadows. I was trying to give it an HDRish look. But the overall warm tone in the image is a result of where the sun is in the sky. Note those longer shadows, too.
At the end of the day–pun intended–golden hour photography is certainly something that I’m going to continue working on.