How Long is the Golden Hour?

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We all know that the magical thing about the golden "hour" is the color of the light and the low angle. But how long do those magical conditions last? Anyone who travels knows that it changes with location. And anyone who pays attention to the seasons knows, at least intuitively, that it changes with the seasons. But how much does it change? For whatever reason I took the time to look at the quantitative information and thought it might be interesting to some others out there to see just how dramatically it can change with location and season.

Interestingly there is no widely accepted definition for the start/stop of the "hour". I think everyone agrees that in morning it starts at sunrise and in evening it ends at sunset. But the end in the morning and start in the evening are pretty nebulous. So for sake of comparison I decided to go with the criteria used by the Exsate Golden Hour app. By there definition the morning "hour" ends in the AM and starts in the PM when the sun is six degrees above the horizon. So with that criterion I compared the length golden "hour" in Miami, Fla and Anchorage, AK at summer solstice, equinox, and winter solstice. In Miami the golden hour varies from 33 minutes in June, 30 minutes in September, to 34 minutes in December. In Anchorage it goes from 1h 26m in June, to 56m in September, to a whopping 5h 29m in December. Actually by the six degree altitude criteria in Anchorage the golden "hour" lasts all day each day from December 9 until January 2. Awesome for landscape photographers. As long as you enjoy shooting snow covered scenes :rolleyes:
 
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It's always good to have people like you who understand this stuff so much more than I do, and especially that you have the curiosity required to look this stuff up and then report the information back to us.

when the sun is six degrees above the horizon
What is their definition of the horizon? I ask because the light when the sun is six degrees above the horizon in an area with lots of mountains is very different than when there are no mountains.

Actually by the six degree altitude criteria in Anchorage the golden "hour" lasts all day each day from December 9 until January 2. Awesome for landscape photographers. As long as you enjoy shooting snow covered scenes
When I was in the Lofoten islands in the northern part of Norway, experiencing the midnight sun in mid July was a really special treat.
 
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I use PhotoPills and/or The Photographers Ephemeris whenever I’m planning an outing. As much as I enjoy the Golden Hour, I also like to photograph during the Blue Hour.
 
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Winter Haven, florida
Like many of us, I love the low raking light that occurs early and late in the day. The duration of that wonderful light certainly depends on latitude and time of year.
The golden part does little for me. Especially with digital imaging, I can make any image golden.
But, what do I know. I shoot mostly in black and white- where it is only the light angle and wonderful shadows, texture, detail that make me enjoy that time of the day.
Gary
 
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May 1, 2005
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Thunder Bay Ontario Canada
It's always good to have people like you who understand this stuff so much more than I do, and especially that you have the curiosity required to look this stuff up and then report the information back to us.



What is their definition of the horizon? I ask because the light when the sun is six degrees above the horizon in an area with lots of mountains is very different than when there are no mountains.



When I was in the Lofoten islands in the northern part of Norway, experiencing the midnight sun in mid July was a really special treat.
I was near Tromso Norway at my brother's home in late June and was woken up by a neighbour working in his garage at 3 a.m. in midday like light
 
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...What is their definition of the horizon? I ask because the light when the sun is six degrees above the horizon in an area with lots of mountains is very different than when there are no mountains.
Good point, Mike. Their definition is relative to the "true horizon" which is the horizon at sea level. Yes in many places by the time the sun gets above the mountains the light is no longer in the warm side of the spectrum.
Like many of us, I love the low raking light that occurs early and late in the day. The duration of that wonderful light certainly depends on latitude and time of year.
The golden part does little for me. Especially with digital imaging, I can make any image golden.
But, what do I know. I shoot mostly in black and white- where it is only the light angle and wonderful shadows, texture, detail that make me enjoy that time of the day.
I shoot color and feel the same way. The angular light is more important than the color of it. I can apply whatever filter I want in post. It's also evident reading forum posts how few people understand that when shooting with auto WB the camera will likely "correct" for the color of "golden hour" light and try to make it white.

The color of early/late light and sunrise/sunset also changes dramatically with location. The more carbon/sulfer/particulates(eg. pollution) in the air the redder the sunrise/sunset will appear. Up here sunrise/sunset lean more to pink/magenta rather than yellow/orange. Particularly in the winter when the air is cold and dry.
 
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