Case Study: The Golden Hour

At this point, some of you may have already read or heard from other classmates about the golden hour. There are actually two — the first (sunrise) and last (sunset)hours of sunlight in a day.

Before I proceed, in case you’re wondering…. Yes, the sky really did look like that at UPOU Headquarters one time.

UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna (2008) ISO 100, f/4.0, 1/80sec
UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna (2008)
ISO 100, f/4.0, 1/80sec

Golden hours are favored by many landscape photographers as the sun gives us a certain quality and direction of light, producing some spectacular colors you won’t normally see in other times of the day. While a bit more challenging, it is also a good opportunity to do portraiture work.

Quality of light is unpredictable and entirely dependent on the weather. We’re also using the term hour very loosely here. A golden hour can be as fleeting as a handful of minutes or several hours, depending on where you are, the weather and perhaps the time of year.

In the Philippines, it’s not uncommon for a day to give us less than 15 minutes of good sunset. But in other parts of the world, particular those far off the planet’s equatorial region, you can get loooong golden hours.

Dutch countryside in autumn (2011) ISO 640, f/4.2, 1/570sec
Dutch countryside in autumn (2011)
ISO 640, f/4.2, 1/50sec

Photographers, such as Ken Rockwell, takes the anticipation of the golden hour at a higher level. Rockwell calls it the state of glorious light, which lasts for around one minute or less. To put it simply, it is that brief moment where the golden hour is at its most colorful. And like the golden hour itself, there really is no assurance that you will see it in a day. Catching glorious light takes a really good eye, some luck and a large amount of perserverance. I leave it to you to attain those attributes, should you try to pursue it.

It is definitely a good time to practice taking pictures during golden hours. It’s one of the reasons why I used to have a camera in my bag everyday. But don’t ever think that you always need to wait for them to capture a good picture of any place. There will always be other avenues to take should your first choice is not possible or available.


Marquès, G. (undated). Understanding golden hour, blue hour and twilights. Retrieved January 5, 2016 from

Rockwell, K. (2012). How to get great colors. Retrieved from