Magic Hour – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

I have mentioned in a past post but Graham pointed out that I haven’t really explained what Magic Hour is.


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Magic hour is the first hour of sunlight after sunrise and the last hour of sunlight before sunset. During this time the quality of light is softer, more diffuse, producing more pleasing tonal transitions and shadows. The colour of the light is much warmer during midday and the directional quality of the light is a wonderful tool at enhancing texture. The soft light helps to prevent the chance of blown out highlights as the typical tonal range from darks to lights is smaller. The magic hour certainly does not always last one hour. Depending on your location it could be much longer or much shorter.


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Between the two options of shooting in the morning or shooting in the evening magic hour periods, I believe that the morning provides better results. The air is typically calmer. There is typically less particulate matter in the air providing for clearer views. One of the other big factors in my preference to photograph in the morning light as opposed to the evening light is there are much fewer people around as sunrise to interfere with the photos. Most people simply do not have a tendency to be up at 4:30 am to watch a sunrise. I know I sure don’t …unless I am shooting!


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Not to be overlooked either is the time before the sun rises and after the sun sets. There continues to be wonderful light in the sky that is useful for making beautiful images, so be sure not to put your camera away too early.


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Until next time, happy shooting.

The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the President of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to chris@pcin.net.

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