In photography, the golden hour (sometimes known as magic hour) is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day when a specific photographic effect is achieved due to the quality of the light [wikipedia]. Last month I had opportunities to shoot at both dusk and dawn in New York City. Most of us are already awake at dusk, but getting those early morning shots of the first light requires a little more effort, especially if you have to travel to the location where you'll be taking pictures. Fortunately for me, all I had to do was walk up three flights of stairs to the roof of the Nolitan Hotel where I was staying.
Why is Golden Hour Important?
Typically, lighting is softer (more diffuse) and warmer in hue. Shadows are relatively non-existent if the sun is below the horizon. When the sun is near or below the horizon, sunlight travels through more of the atmosphere, reducing the intensity of the direct light, so that more of the illumination comes from indirect light from the sky (Thomas 1973, 9–13), reducing the lighting ratio. More blue light is scattered, so if the sun is present, its light appears more reddish. In addition, the sun's small angle with the horizon produces longer shadows.
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