The Magic Hour

Most photographers will agree that the best time of day to take pictures is early in the morning when the sun is starting to rise and the late afternoon when the sun is setting.  The sunlight is soft an its color is reddish or orange.  This time of day is called “the magic hour” or the “golden hour”.

It’s soft, warm, dimensional, and just flat-out magical. It adds a quality to images that can’t be replicated no matter how many actions, filters, or textures you use.

Best of all. It’s totally free, and comes around almost every single day. Twice!

The light is traveling through more of the Earth’s atmosphere, and that really softens it up. In fact, golden light can become so soft that you can have your subjects facing straight into the sun, and they won’t squint, they won’t look shiny, and the light will be super flattering. Seriously, it’s like magic.

Warm as in color temperature. With golden light, more of the blue wavelengths are scattered, and so the light naturally looks more red/yellow/orange. Warmer tones are generally more flattering on people. Think of tanning—people like their skin to be golden!

Yesterday, at exactly 5:58 p.m. I took this shot of our neighborhood from the terrace of the house.  The surrounding were absolutely magical.  The dry grass and barren trees were painted with a soft orange glow which gave them a golden look.  Even though we are in the middle of a severe drought, the situation is mitigated with scenes like this.  Take a look.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Good Day!


2 thoughts on “The Magic Hour”

  1. You’re right about the light. When I was staying at the Presidio, the fort was the canvas, and the light was the paint. It could be cold and gray or warm and golden, depending on the light.

    1. Hello Linda:

      In photography, light is everything. After all, the meaning of photography is “painting with light” as you already know. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the basics of photography; and the more you learn, the more you know about the complexity of the subject.

      At the moment I’m taking a course made possible by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) which depicts the wonders of the craft. It is free of charge, but if you want a certificate of achievement, you can have it printed with the payment of $49.00. I started the course this morning, and really liked it.

      Photographs of Edward Steichen, Eugene Atget, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz and Vik Muntz are shown and explained. I knew about Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz, but had not idea who the other photographers were.

      In my opinion, learning the history of Photography is as important as taking pictures to enhance your technical skills. Know the why is as important as knowing the how.

      The name of the course is “Seeing Through Photographs” made possible by the Museum of Modern Art.

      Best Regards,


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