Just before sunset, colours get softer and redder. Photographers call this time of day the golden hour and, whenever possible, they take advantage of its gentle light. Add in a white cliff, a water reflection and an east facing view so the sun is setting behind the photographer, and you have reached perfection.
In the case of the photo below, it was near perfection. We had the golden hour on a cloudy night with the last bit of sunlight sneaking through behind me and lighting up the cliff in a spectacular show of nature. The only negative was the appearance of a sinking yacht in the foreground.
Okoromai Bay at Golden Hour
The shot was taken from the Southwest side of Okoromai Bay in Shakespear Park at the end of Whangaparaoa Peninsula (Auckland, New Zealand). If you live here or read the marine charts you would know Okoromai Bay is extremely tidal. The skipper of the yacht on its side clearly did neither. His boat tipped as the tide left and the bay became too shallow. In about six hours he will be afloat again. However, if you are looking for an actual sunken boat, there is one sitting just off the end of the cliff in the photo. As the tide continues to go out, it will appear clearly.
A Tree Near Kerikeri Falls at Golden Hour
The Waitakere Ranges are a regional park on Auckland’s west coast. (Shakespear Park is located on the east coast.) While the landscape is quite different, the effects of the golden hour are the same.
Photography tips: taking photos during the golden hour
- There are two golden hours each day. The first is the just after the sunrise, while the second comes just before sunset. It is at these times of day when you will get your rich, warm, natural light.
- Sunrise and sunset are published times, they are never surprises. Plan ahead, and be ready when the shot is right. In New Zealand, you can check Metservices. Click here for Auckland sunrise and sunset times. There are plenty of spots in Auckland to find the magic of the golden hour.
- Find the ideal spot at your location, watch the sun to be sure it is moving in the direction for your shot, and patiently wait for the right moment. Then take the shot at the moment doesn’t last long.
- Shoot in RAW format, so you can adjust in post-production. I generally find I need to decrease the highlights of the sky, a simple task using Adobe Lightroom. You may also need to adjust white balance, another simple task with Lightroom.
I shoot with an Olympus OMD-em5 Mark II. I switched from DSLR to the mirrorless micro 4/3 technology years ago and have always been happy with my choice. I love the lightweight compact feel of my camera and am comforted in knowing it can do everything I have needed it to do.
Which did you find more interesting, the cliff colours at the golden hour or the yacht tipping at low tide?
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