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The Magic Hour

The Magic Hour. I hear this term thrown around a lot, but do people really know what it means? Most people think it is the hour before the sunsets or right after it rises. This is actually incorrect, but debatable. There is also something called the Golden Hour which is the hour BEFORE it sets and the hour AFTER it rises. It is totally different light. The Magic Hour is just before the sun rises and just after it sets. The sun can not be shining at all. Here is the reasoning: The sun creates harsh shadows, because relatively speaking it is a small, albeit strong light source due to how far away it is from us. The moment it dips below the horizon the entire sky becomes the light source and creates smooth, shadowless light. For photographers it is not really the Magic Hour, but more like the Magic Minute. If you are shooting still life, get your tripod and you will have a pretty good amount of time. If you are shooting people, it is not an easy task as everyone must be really still. The below shot was taken yesterday at just the moment the sun went down. I was at ISO 1600 because, can you really get an 8 month old to sit still? I needed all the help I could get to have a faster shutter speed. At this high ISO I was only able to shoot wide open at 1/60 sec. and 1/40 sec. Anyone who has ever shot kids knows that is not that fast. The other thing to remember: local sunset is not necessarily YOUR local sunset. I watched the sun and it dipped below the mountains at 7:05 a whole 7 minutes before it was supposed to based on the “local sunset time.” I only had 3 minutes before there was not enough light to continue shooting. Notice the rich tones, the reflection of the sky in his eyes, and how the light wraps around his face without creating any noticeable shadows. This is why it is Magic.

Camera: Canon 5D, Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec., Aperature: f/4.5, ISO: 1600
Date Shot: September 6, 2008
Location: Central Park, Santa Clarita, CA

Camera: Canon 5D, Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec., Aperature: f/4.5, ISO: 1600
Date Shot: September 6, 2008
Location: Central Park, Santa Clarita, CA

Camera: Canon 5D, Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec., Aperature: f/4.0, ISO: 1600
Date Shot: September 6, 2008
Location: Central Park, Santa Clarita, CA

Camera: Canon 5D, Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec., Aperature: f/4.0, ISO: 1600
Date Shot: September 6, 2008
Location: Central Park, Santa Clarita, CA

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