Canon 7D, The Golden Hour

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In landscape photography, the quality of light is essential to making beautiful photos. Many photographers will tell you that their favorite time of day to take outdoor photographs is during the fi rst and last hour of sunlight, also referred to as the “golden hour” or “magic hour” (Figure 5.12). This is because the light is coming from a very low angle to the landscape, creating shadows and providing depth and character. The light also adds color to the earth and the sky—and clouds in the image further add to that color.

FIGURE 5.12 This image was photographed at sunrise, which added color to the sky and a beautiful refl ection on the water.
FIGURE 5.12 This image was photographed at sunrise, which added color to the sky and a beautiful refl ection on the water.

If you ask me, the presence of clouds can always improve a landscape image, whether they’re cute and fl uffy or dark and stormy (Figure 5.13). During the golden hour, sunlight can refl ect off the clouds, producing amazing color combinations that you would not see during the middle of the day. But be prepared—sometimes these color changes take place in a matter of minutes, so be ready to press that Shutter button!

FIGURE 5.13 The presence of clouds, like those in this sunset photo, can transform an ordinary scene into an extraordinary one.
FIGURE 5.13 The presence of clouds, like those in this sunset photo, can transform an ordinary scene into an extraordinary one.