The Magical Golden Hours - Misty Morning at the Temples of Bagan

The Magical Golden Hours - Misty Morning at the Temples of Bagan

I have two favourite times of day for photography, the hours surrounding sunrise and sunset.

Before the sun rises and after it sets light is bounced around the atmosphere giving other worldly light. There is a beautiful stillness before the sun rises, as nature starts to awaken from its slumber.

Then comes the magic of dawn; when a scene is revealed before your eyes. This time of day, with its ensuing changes in colour and light, never ceases to amaze me. Which is why for 25 years as a professional travel photographer I am still happy to rise before first light, as I never quite know what awaits. Early morning is often accompanied by mist, another variable, which can add to the atmosphere and give a different quality to your photos.

For the hour following sunrise the light is much softer, more diffused and golden as it has to travel further through the Earth’s atmosphere. The hour before sunset mirrors the hour after sunrise with rich golden tones. I love the magical quality of the light at these times, often referred to as the “golden hour”. The golden hour will vary in length and richness, depending on the time of year and distance from the equator.

In the early evening as the afternoon golden light fades into sunset many people often gather to photograph, especially at tourist hotspots. However, I am always surprised to see how many people leave as soon as the sun has disappeared. I am usually left on my own waiting for the after show, that time when the clouds and atmosphere ignite new colours, which for me is often the main event.

To make the most of shooting at these times I recommend using a tripod when shooting landscapes; allow plenty of time for setting up; and to keep shooting, as the light changes fast. Keep an eye on your meter readings as the sky becomes lighter in the morning or darker in the evening. I use Lee ND graduated filters to balance the sky with the foreground.

The best tip of all is be patient and enjoy natures free light show as it works its magic in front of your eyes.


Travel photography shared by Stephen Studd